22 Nov 2023
The impending implementation of Martyn's Law, also known as the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, is a pivotal moment for public safety in the UK. Originating from the devastating Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, this legislation is set to transform how public venues address and mitigate terrorist threats.
The Origin of Martyn's Law
Named after Martyn Hett, a victim of the Manchester Arena attack, Martyn's Law is a campaign led by his mother, Figen Murray. It's a call to action for enhanced security measures in public spaces, with the UK Home Office describing the bill as a tool to "strengthen national security by ensuring preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks."
Key Provisions of the Bill
Martyn's Law introduces several essential measures:
- A New Regulator: With inspection and enforcement authority.
- Scope and Definitions: Targeting venues with a capacity of over 100 people, with more stringent requirements for 'enhanced premises' accommodating 800 or more.
- Mandatory Registration and Risk Assessment: Requiring terrorism risk assessments and registration with the regulator.
- Training and Security Plans: Mandating terrorism protection training and updated security plans.
- Penalties for Non-Compliance: Including financial penalties for failing to meet the requirements.
Preparing for Compliance: A Proactive Approach
As Martyn's Law moves closer to becoming a reality, public venues must start preparing to meet its requirements. This includes understanding the scope of the law, conducting thorough risk assessments, and developing comprehensive security plans. Training staff in terrorism protection and ensuring compliance with the new regulations will be crucial.
Addressing Challenges and Criticisms
The Home Affairs Committee highlighted concerns about the bill's impact on small businesses and community-run organisations, questioning the clarity of objectives and evidence supporting the capacity figures. The committee also emphasised the need for mandatory life-saving training and statutory standards for new building designs. Venues must consider these aspects while preparing for the law, ensuring that their security measures are both effective and proportionate.
Practical Guidance on Martyn's Law for Public Venues
- Evaluate and Implement Suitable Security Measures: Venues should review their existing security arrangements and consider adopting suitable, feasible measures to safeguard staff and the public from terrorism. This encompasses both procedural and physical deterrents, adapted to the specifics of the premises, their activities, and available resources.
- Keep Updated and Ready for Regulatory Developments: Stay informed about the ongoing developments of Martyn's Law, particularly those detailed in the King's Speech and subsequent consultations. Regularly visit ProtectUK and other official sources for the most recent guidance.
- Understand the Function of the Regulator: The regulator's main function is to provide advice and guidance, serving primarily as an educator. Be aware that enforcement will be equitable and proportionate, with a range of sanctions tailored to the nature of any infringements.
- Plan for Incidents in the Immediate Surroundings: Venues must contemplate potential terrorist attacks that could occur on or near their premises. Enhanced duty premises and qualifying public events should undertake feasible measures to lessen the risk of terrorism and harm in these areas.
- Collaborate Within Multi-Use Premises: If your venue is part of a larger qualifying complex, collaborate with the overall responsible person's security protocols and training requirements. This collaboration extends to all parties with control over the premises, including proprietors and lessees.
- Understand Capacity Calculations and Adherence: Capacity is a crucial criterion for determining the law's scope. Stay abreast of the regulations for calculating capacity to ensure adherence, especially as premises of different sizes have varied capabilities for security considerations.
- Clarify Responsibility and Accountability: Responsibility for adherence lies with the 'responsible person' of the venue, akin to Fire Safety legislation. This could be an individual or an organisation. Volunteers or lower-paid staff are not accountable under the Bill for adherence.
- Recognise the Purpose of Martyn’s Law: Appreciate that Martyn’s Law is designed to prepare and protect premises against terrorist attacks, diminishing their impact. It forms part of the wider counter-terrorism strategy and is not intended to thwart terrorist attacks, which remains the remit of security services and police.
Implementing BBX Blocks as a Security Measure:
Consider integrating BBX Blocks into your security strategy. Their blast and ballistic resistance make them a potent physical mitigation tool, aligning with Martyn’s Law's requirements for enhanced security. Utilise the versatility of BBX Blocks to meet the unique architectural and security needs of your venue, ensuring compliance with the new legal requirements while boosting overall safety.
By adhering to these practical steps, venues can effectively prepare for and comply with Martyn's Law, enhancing their security stance and contributing to a safer public environment.