Martyn’s Law Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – Set for parliamentary introduction following inclusion in King’s Speech
The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill: An overview The legislation, which was initially called the Protect Duty in the build up to it being released, is a direct response to the terror attack at Manchester Arena on the night of 22 May 2017, where 22 people were killed as a result. It forms part of the Government’s response to the Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 1, which recommended the introduction of legislation to improve the safety and security of public venues. The Bill continues to be known as Martyn’s Law, referencing the campaign driven by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett – Martyn was among those who died in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. The UK Home Office says: “The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill will help keep people safe and enhance national security by ensuring preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks. Proportionate new security requirements will be introduced for certain public venues and locations.” The vast majority of the Bill will be applicable across the United Kingdom, covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The 56-page Bill covers a range of measures, from what premises and events will qualify as in scope and their registration, through to the evaluation of terrorism risk and the provision of terrorism protection training. Key takeaways from the first draft include:
The introduction of a Regulator, which will have powers of inspection and enforcement
Identifies the qualifying premises, what parts of this premises, and types of events which will fall under scope – those with capacity for more than 100 individuals. Enhanced duties will be required from those which have a public capacity of 800 individuals or more, called ‘enhanced premises’
Notes that a responsible person must ensure that the qualifying premises is registered with the regulator
Outlines the minimum requirements expected of responsible persons for the evaluation and assessment of terrorism risk, such as a standard terrorism evaluation, with further measures expected of ‘enhanced premises’ (or events) such as a terrorism risk assessment
Outlines a requirement for terrorism protection training for relevant workers at qualifying premises
The requirement for updated security plans for enhanced premises or qualifying public events
Provision of powers to the regulator to issue a contravention notice to those person(s) who may be failing to comply. Restriction notices (for an initial period of up to six months) may also be issued to those responsible for enhanced duty premises or qualifying public events
Provision of powers to the regulator to issue ‘appropriate and proportionate’ penalty financial notices to those deemed not in compliance. The maximum amount for standard duty premises will be up to £10,000. The maximum amount for an enhanced premises will be whichever is greater of £18 million or 5% of its qualifying worldwide revenue
The Bill also notes that the Secretary of State must issue guidance regarding the discharge of requirements placed upon persons under the Bill. With regards to the financial implications of the Bill, the Government has identified the need for a regulator to be put in place as its main requirement. It expects this cost to be between £89 million to £178 million as an estimate at this stage. It also acknowledges there will be additional costs to local authorities. Read the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill in full here >> Latest news on the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill Updates since the draft legislation has been released are as follows:
02/06/23: Draft Standard Terrorism Evaluation and a corresponding guidance document was published.
06/06/23: Home Affairs Committee on pre-legislative scrutiny of the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill
27/07/23: Home Affairs Committee pre-legislative scrutiny of Draft Bill published
07/11/23: Bill included in King’s Speech, outlining Government’s intention to lay out before parliament in coming months
The release of draft legislation on 2 May 2023 is an important moment for the bill, which has been beset by delays in recent years for several reasons. In October, Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett who died in the Manchester Arena attack, personally called upon the new UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to keep the Protect Duty on the legislative agenda. The news of the Bill being planned for spring was first announced in mid-December by Home Secretary, Suella Braverman. The bill had also been referenced in the Queen’s Speech in May 2022, where Prince Charles said that measures would be introduced “to support the security services and ensure the safety of its people”, while it was later confirmed in the full document (page 89). Bill’s inclusion in first King’s Speech outlines Government intention for legislative process to begin (November 2023) On 7 November 2023, King Charles III gave his first King’s Speech, which marks the official state opening of Parliament for the year ahead in the United Kingdom. The ceremony marks the formal start of the parliamentary year and sets out the Government’s proposed policies and legislative programme for 2023-24. Though the monarch reads out the speech, they have no role in its contents, which is set by the Prime Minister and the Government. For 2023-24, King Charles III included the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – otherwise known as Martyn’s Law – in the speech. Though policies included in the reading are not guaranteed to become legislation, this does provide an important indication that the Bill will go forwards and be introduced to parliament, which begins the main stage of the legislative process – a reading in the House of Commons. For those backing the Bill, this will come as a positive step forwards and a relief. There has been uncertainty on whether the legislation would continue it’s progress, given the findings from the pre-legislative scrutiny report in July (see below). Making several references to national security and strengthening intelligence services, the King’s Speech outlined that: “Legislation will be introduced to protect public premises from terrorism in the light of the Manchester Arena attack” – a direct reference to Martyn’s Law. Home Affairs Committee pre-legislative scrutiny – Concerns over proportionality, purpose and regulator (July 2023) On Thursday 27 July 2023, the Home Affairs Committee who had been tasked with conducting pre-legislative scrutiny – that is, assessing the bill and providing recommendations before it is formally laid out in parliament – released their report. Its findings hold several concerns, after receiving evidence from an array of stakeholders including representatives from business, local authorities, and the security industry, as well as the Minister for Security. Overall, the Committee agreed with the Regulatory Policy Committee’s (RPC) rating of the Government’s impact assessment of the Draft Bill as ‘not fit for purpose’, and questions whether the Bill is proportionate given that risk may vary significantly based on the event or person(s) attending, rather than size of venue. The introduction to the report provides an overview of the concerns raised: “Whilst we welcome the Government’s intention behind the Draft Bill, we have some serious concerns about the proportionality of the Bill, especially in relation to the impact on small businesses, voluntary and community-run organisations in the standard tier premises, where there is a lack of evidence that the Bill will adequately reduce the threat of terrorism for small organisations. We also have some concerns about the unfinished provisions in the Draft Bill, the purpose of the Bill, the regulator and some of the duties required. There are a number of other areas in which we feel that the Draft Bill could be improved upon, including introducing a provision for mandatory life-saving training and statutory standards for the design of new buildings.” Key concerns raised by the Home Affairs Committee included:
The overall objective of the Draft Bill isn’t clear – is the Bill about prevention or response? Would the Bill have made a difference to recent terrorist attacks, for instance?
A targeted communications campaign around the Draft Bill and its impact on businesses is required urgently – there is much confusion at the moment for those potentially affected
The cost on both standard and enhanced tier premises is disproportionate to the level of threat faced – how has the Government calculated this?
Questions over duties and qualifying premises and events – what is the evidence for the capacity figures of 100 and 800? The standard tier capacity of 100 may be particularly burdensome on small and community run organisations
The Government should consider expanding the scope of the Bill whether or not express permission is needed to enter
While agreeing with the need for training of staff, it must be “provided to a prescribed standard”
Significant questions over the regulator and its powers, given no detail or provisions have yet been set out
The Bill could be strengthened by making it a requirement for publicly accessible new builds to consider security in the design of the building
Specific to the security industry, the Committee raised “grave concerns” around the low entry thresholds to the UK security industry. It advised that independently of the Draft Bill, the Government should work with the Security Industry Authority (SIA) to “urgently standardise and improve training for security guards”. It also advised that provisions for the Bill should be considered that address the education and procurement of security officers at enhanced tier venues. Read the full pre-legislative scrutiny report from the Home Affairs Committee, here. Responding to the report, Nick Aldworth, former National Coordinator of Protect and Prepare Counter Terrorism policing, said: “I know that the committee did its work in a rush, but its conclusions don’t reflect the universal and unpredictable nature of the terrorist threat that was described to them by other witnesses.” “Recommending a single tier and phased implementation will only signpost terrorists to smaller locations and increase the risk to them. At a time when we are seeing terrorists shift their focus to these kinds of venues as soft targets, nowhere is without exposure to terrorism. “The Government should take their point seriously on including outdoor venues, but their wider arguments are not only wrong but dangerous.” Figen Murray also noted her disappointment at the findings of the report. In a message shared on social media on 4 August 2023, Figen outlined her belief that some of the evidence given was “both misinformed and misguided”, which confused the committee members. She specifically noted her concern around the report’s recommendation that to only start with the enhanced tier venues and implement the legislation in two steps would be “dangerous” and put lives at risk. In response to the committee’s findings over proportionality, Figen explained that the measures expected from standard tier venues would not be cumbersome and would simply involve those responsible to carry out the free 45 minute ACT training available online, and to think about what processes may need to be put in place to ensure the safety of visitors. Background to the Terrorism Bill (Previously the Protect Duty) The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, otherwise known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ or the Protect Duty, will be a new piece of anti-terrorism legislation, designed to ensure the public is better protected from a “multifaceted, diverse and continually evolving” terror threat. Its purpose has been outlined as to “keep people safe by introducing new security requirements for certain public locations and venues to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks”. The main elements of the draft bill are:
Establishing a new requirements framework which requires those in control of certain public locations and venues to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures
Delivering an inspection and enforcement regime, which will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with the Duty.
It follows a campaign from Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett who sadly lost his life in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in May 2017, who has highlighted the need to improve security standards in crowded public spaces and venues. An Inquiry into the Manchester Arena attack finished in March 2023, with three reports published by the Chairman, Sir John Saunders:
Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 1: Security for the Arena (focusing on the security arrangements at the Manchester Arena and missed opportunities to stop the bomber)
Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 2: Emergency Response (examining the response of the emergency services, which was deemed to be ‘uncoordinated and risk averse’)
Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 3: Radicalisation and Preventability (focusing on the radicalisation of the bomber and preventability of the attack by the security services)
The Protect Duty will extend and apply across the UK and will now go through the various stages of the legislative process, including readings in the House of Commons and House of Lords before it becomes law. As above, the Draft Bill was published on 2 May 2023. It will require venues and local authorities to draw up preventative plans against terror attacks, following a tiered model that will be linked to the activity that takes place at a particular venue. A standard tier will apply to venues with maximum capacities of 100 and above, while an enhanced tier will be applied to those venues considered to be high-capacity locations and events – 800 or more. Figen Murray spoke at IFSEC in May 2023, and before this sat down with IFSEC Insider to discuss the journey to Martyn’s Law and how the campaign developed over time. Listen to the interview on the IFSEC Insider podcast, below:
Protect Duty consultation Throughout the process, the Government has said it is “committed to improving the safety and security of public venues”. A consultation was run in 2021 to consider how to “develop proportionate security measures to improve public security”. Read the full Government response to the Protect Duty consultation >> The initial Protect Duty consultation opened to the public and industry in February 2021, and was targeted at all those who own or operate publicly accessible locations that a ‘Protect Duty’ would potentially affect, including:
In total, the consultation received 2755 responses through a variety of organisations, sectors and campaigners, with the majority supporting the Government’s proposals to introduce stronger measures, including a legal requirement to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks. Currently, there is no legislative requirement for organisations to consider security measures at the vast majority of public places. It was found that 50% of those who responded to the consultation currently undertake a risk assessment for terrorism. Crucially, the aim is to implement security measures, but without placing “undue burden” on smaller businesses, and to identify what support would be required from government. Key findings of the Protect Duty consultation included:
70% of respondents agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public – including ensuring staff were trained appropriately
Strong views were expressed regarding accountability, such as the need for clear roles and responsibilities – particularly amongst event organisers and owners
Half the respondents were in favour of an inspectorate that would identify key vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, as well as share best practice
66% of respondents disagreed with the Government’s cost and benefit estimates, citing additional costs such as added policing requirements, potential business closures of small businesses due to extra costs and insurance premiums.
Respondents noted that guidance to support businesses in complying would be required, with emphasis on clarity, ensuring guidance was specific to different applications, guidance on physical security measures such as CCTV and support with risk assessments, amongst others.
Then-Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “Following the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena, we have worked closely with Figen Murray, victims’ groups and partners to develop proposals to improve protective security around the country. I am grateful for their tireless commitment to the duty and those who responded to the consultation; the majority of whom agreed tougher measures are needed to protect the public from harm.” “We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year, that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.” Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, who has campaigned for the Protect Duty since the death of her son in the Manchester Arena Attack in 2017 In the ministerial foreword to the Government’s response, Damian Hinds MP, then-Minister for Security and Borders, noted: “The Protect Duty would be one means by which we seek to further enhance public security, sitting alongside our existing and ongoing work programmes to achieve this aim. I have noted the strength of views expressed in response to several consultation questions, that it is right that those responsible for public places should take measures to protect the public and to prepare their staff to respond appropriately. “In short, taking measures to ensure that there is an appropriate and consistent approach to protective security and preparedness at public places is a reasonable ask. However, the responses also highlighted the challenge of which organisations should be in the scope, and what would constitute proportionate security measures. This includes ensuring that there is not an undue burden on organisations, particularly those which are smaller in size or staffed by volunteers, such as places of worship.” What do we mean by ‘publicly accessible location’? And what’s the scope being considered? A publicly accessible location has been defined by the Government as: “Any place which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission”. This includes a wide range of venues, such as sports stadiums, festivals, hotels, pubs, casinos, high streets, retail centres, schools & universities, places of worship, parks, transport hubs and many more. Considerations for the scope include legislating for publicly accessible venues to legally require robust security risk assessments and to act on those findings, to better protect the public. Both venues and events will fall in scope. A standard duty will apply to those venues of a capacity of 100 people or more, while an enhanced duty will apply to those with a capacity of 800 or more. The consultation document outlined four key questions that respondents and stakeholders need to consider, which are:
Who (or where) should legislation apply to?
What should the requirements be for those parties within the scope?
How should compliance work?
How should government best support and work with partners?
In the ministerial foreword for the consultation, the late James Brokenshire, then-Security Minister, said: “There is much good work already being done by many organisations, and I welcome these ongoing efforts. However, in the absence of a legislative requirement, there is no certainty that considerations of security are undertaken by those operating the wide variety of sites and places open to the public, or, where they are undertaken, what outcomes are achieved. This consultation considers how we could improve this position, through reasonable and not overly burdensome security measures.”
The full document outlining the Protect Duty can be accessed, here.
The Government’s full response to the Protect Duty consultation can be found, here.
To further support the public and private sector, the Home Office is collaborating with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and Pool Reinsurance to develop a new interactive online platform, which will provide advice, guidance, e-learning and other helpful content. In the consultation, 74% of respondents felt that a single, digital service to access relevant material, advice and training would be useful in assisting compliance.