Next month will mark six years since Martyn Hett and twenty-one other people were killed in a terrorist attack here in Manchester at the Arena. The ocean of floral tributes crammed into St Ann’s Square in our city centre brought home the scale of loss and grief felt by everyone.
The government has pledged to introduce The Protect Duty, known as Martyn’s Law, across the UK.
By requiring property owners to improve security procedures, risk assessments and preparedness, it aims to improve public safety and reduce risk from terrorist attacks at venues from theatres, museums, stadiums, concert halls, and shopping centres to pubs and cafés. To borrow Martyn’s mother’s words: it “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.”
There will be a lead time to allow those captured by its duties to prepare for Martyn’s Law coming into force but many are already preparing. In Manchester alone, by the end of February this year over a thousand venue staff had already taken part in Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) training to equip them with skills to identify and mitigate potential risks, and respond in the event of a terror attack.
Martyn’s Law will follow a tiered approach based on venue size and the activities taking place at a given location. It will cover a wide range of venues, not just those considered to be at high risk.
Venue operators will likely be required to implement certain security measures, such as conducting enhanced risk assessments, developing and practising emergency plans, improving communication with emergency services, appointing a named individual responsible for security, and ensuring that all staff receive appropriate training. Notwithstanding the common assent that these are necessary and appropriate measures, there will also be cost and time implications for venue owners who may have already endured the times of Corona and the deepening cost of living crisis.
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