Martyn’s Law moves one step closer to legislation

The UK Government has confirmed that the Protect Duty, now officially known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, is to be advanced to draft legislation stage, and will be ready for review in Spring 2023.

The draft legislation has been developed by the Government with security partners, business and victims’ groups, including Figen Murray OBE and the Martyn’s Law Campaign Team, and Survivors Against Terror. The new duty will require venues to take steps to improve public safety, with measures dependent on the size of the venue and the activity taking place.

Martyn’s Law, named after Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack and son of campaigner Figen Murray OBE, will follow a tiered model linked to activity that takes place at a location relative to its capacity, to prevent undue burden on businesses.

First, a standard tier will apply to locations and venues with a maximum capacity of more than 100 which can undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve preparedness. This will include training, information sharing and completion of a preparedness plan to embed practices, such as locking doors to delay attackers progress or knowledge on lifesaving treatments that can be administered by staff whilst awaiting emergency services.

Secondly, there will be an enhanced tier that will focus on high-capacity locations and venues in recognition of the potential consequences of a physical terrorist attack. Locations and venues with a capacity of more than 800 people at any time, will additionally be required to undertake a risk assessment to inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan. Subsequent measures could include developing a vigilance and security culture, implementation of physical measures like CCTV or new systems and processes to enable better consideration of security.

The Government will establish an inspection and enforcement regime, promoting compliance and cultural change and issuing what it says will be “credible and fair” sanctions for serious breaches.

Dedicated statutory guidance and bespoke support will be provided by the Government to ensure those in scope can effectively discharge their responsibilities, with small venues also able to benefit from this and take voluntary action. Expert advice, training and guidance is already available on the online protective security hub, ProtectUK.

Campaigning pays off

The plans have been developed following public consultation and extensive engagement across industry, charities, local authorities, security experts and with survivors. Seventy percent of the thousands who responded to the consultation agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public from potential attacks.

Figen Murray presents ICC Wales’ Protect Duty report at Somerset House, London, March 2022 | Credit: ICC Wales

Figen Murray OBE, mother of victim Martyn Hett and Protect Duty campaigner, welcomed the news. She said: “Martyn’s Law isn’t going to stop terrorism, but common-sense security, and making sure venues are doing all they can to keep people safe, could mean fewer suffer what myself and the families of Manchester have had to endure.

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to including smaller venues and working quickly on this legislation. It is vital we now take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others wherever possible and I hope other countries learn from this ground-breaking legislation.”

ICC Wales, a major UK venue located near Newport, Wales launched a report earlier this year exploring how the Protect Duty would benefit events and analysed sentiment and preparedness from the wider events industry.

Responding to the news, Danielle Bounds, Sales Director at ICC Wales, said: “To see the UK government advancing Martyn’s Law is truly encouraging. We have worked closely with Figen Murray OBE over the past 12 months and witnessed first-hand her sheer dedication to this important legislation, so to see this one step closer to becoming law is fantastic news.

“We look forward to reviewing the draft legislation next spring. We will continue to support Figen on this journey and to educate the global events sector on this important work.” 

ICC Wales, Newport | Credit ©Steve Pope Fotowales

Government support

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, noted the way the city of Manchester came together as a community in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack, and paid homage to campaigners such as Figen Murray OBE who he said have dedicated their lives to making us safer and promoting kindness and tolerance.

“I am committed to working with Figen to improve security measures at public venues and spaces and to delivering this vital legislation to honour Martyn’s memory and all of those affected by terrorism,” he said.

His comments were echoed by the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, who said protecting the public from danger is a key responsibility of any government. “The terrorist threat we face is diverse and continually evolving, which is why this legislation is so important,” she said.

“I would like to thank Figen Murray OBE and the Martyn’s Law campaign for their support in the development of this vital reform. Their tireless efforts have helped inform our approach and the heart-breaking stories from survivors and their families are a constant reminder as to why we must deliver on this commitment to work together to improve public security.”

Martyn’s Law will extend to and apply across the whole of the United Kingdom and the Government will publish draft legislation in the early Spring to ensure the law stands the test of time. Draft legislation is a way of releasing a bill or regulation in a format available for public comment before it is formally introduced into the Parliamentary and Legislative processes.

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