What is Martyn’s Law/Protect Duty?
Currently, there is no legislative requirement for organisations or venues to consider or action specific security measures in (most) public places. However, in the aftermath of the May 2017 Manchester bombing, subsequent investigations revealed that improvements to the security of the venue could have saved lives.
Following years of campaigning and lobbying by victim’s groups, the Government has been moving ahead with a proposed Protect Duty, commonly known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, after one of the victims. If passed, Martyn’s law will create a legislative requirement for owners and operators of public spaces to implement measures designed to protect the public from potential future attacks.
Currently, it is not known what impact this legislation will have if passed. However, the information from a government led consultation with the public points to several important considerations.
The consultation ran from 26 February to 02 July 2021. The Government response to the consultation noted that 7 in 10 respondents agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the public from attacks. This includes ensuring staff are trained to respond appropriately. Further proposals with broad support in the consultation included:
(“the Protect Duty”)
Participants in the consultation were evenly split on whether there should be civil penalties to ensure compliance to the Duty.
Who will be affected by Protect Duty?
A publicly accessible location has currently 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”
Therefore, those potentially affected by the legislation will include venues, organisations, businesses, local authorities, public authorities and individuals. In short, the impact will likely be widespread.
Potential considerations under Protect Duty
The Government consultation on the Protect Duty quizzed respondents on certain specific measures and suggestions, and it can be inferred that there are various measures that will probably need to be considered should the Duty become law.
The Government’s stated desire is for the measures required under the Protect Duty to be “reasonable and not overly burdensome”. These measures will likely include the following:
Whilst the potential costs and added administrative and bureaucratic burden of the Protect Duty may seem daunting in today’s economic environments, most people would seem to agree that it is necessary to protect lives.
Reading the potential requirements of the Protect Duty above, several considerations are currently somewhat vague, or may be difficult for staff to implement. Not providing detailed floor plans for the sake of security is logical, for example, but public venues must also make it clear where exits are, and so it is not obvious where the line is drawn between the security consideration for hostile reconnaissance, and considerations for evacuation due to terror attack, fire, or any other reason.
These concerns were given consideration in the Government consultation, which asked what advice and support the Government should provide to help bring those affected by the Protect Duty into compliance. The applicant responses stressed that the following would be required:
What can Quigg Golden do for you?
It is not yet known precisely what measures will be required under Protect Duty, but Quigg Golden can provide advice related to how the procurement and construction industries can prepare for new legislation.
Should you have any questions on the contents of this article, or if our services are of interest, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Published 27 November 2023
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