Martyn’s Law to Help Ensure Added Security at Venues
Martyn Het was only 29 years old when he lost his life at the Manchester Arena in the dreadful terrorist attack of 2017. He was one of 22 people who lost their lives that day, most of whom were young people enjoying an evening out watching a favourite artist. The attack sent shockwaves throughout the country and served as a stark reminder of the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks and other risks.
And the Manchester Arena attack highlighted how any venue is a potential target, including concerts attended mostly by young people. While Britain’s security and intelligence services are among the best in the world, the Manchester Arena attack highlights the fact they are not infallible and some terrorists will manage to carry out their plans. And when terrorists are successful, the results can be devastating.
As such, it has been widely agreed that public venues must do more to help ensure their patrons are safe and a new law has been drawn up to ensure venue operators meet their obligations. The plans have been drawn up after consulting with the public and businesses, including those in a wide range of industries. The feedback from the public has been very positive, with most people agreeing that venue owners have a responsibility to keep their sites as safe as possible.
The new legislation will be named Martyn’s Law, after Martyn Het.
Legislation to Cover All UK Venues
When introduced, Martyn’s law will apply to all venues in the UK with a capacity of more than 100 people. The law will also have different tiers to ensure all venues get adequate protection according to the nature of the event and the number of people attending.
Martyn’s law is to have two main tiers, which are the standard tier and the enhanced tier.
The standard will apply to all venues with a capacity of more than 100 people. The law means these venues will have to train their staff in practices that will help to thwart or at least delay attackers. For example, staff are in a better position to identify a potential risk if they are trained to identify suspicious behaviour.
Staff will also be trained in what to do in the case of an attack, which could also help to save many lives. The training will be low cost yet very effective, helping to make Britain’s venues safe for people of all backgrounds and ages for well into the future.
The enhanced tier will apply to venues with a maximum capacity of 800 or more people. Staff will be trained in prevention methods and how to act in the case of an attack as with the standard tier but the venue will also be expected to take additional precautions. Such precautions include undertaking risk assessments from which an effective prevention plan can be developed and implemented. Precautions will also include physical measures like installing CCTV cameras and other security systems that will help security staff monitor the venue effectively.
The UK government will also establish a system to help ensure venues are abiding by the law and taking all necessary measures. This will include potential sanctions for venues that don’t follow the new rules. The regime will also promote a cultural change among venues to help ensure their ongoing compliance. In addition, the government will be offering guidance and support to venues to help them comply with the new regulations.
A Positive Reception
Overall, the new legislation has been met positively as it's clear many lives could be saved in the future. Those supporting the new law include Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Het. Ms Murray has received an OBE for her counter-terrorism work after the death of her son, helping to ensure as few people have to experience the pain she has. Ms Murray has also called the new law ‘common sense’ and has urged the government to enact the law as soon as possible. Draft legislation for the new law is expected to be published sometime in spring this year.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has spoken about his commitment to helping improve security at venues. He has also pledged to work with Figen Murray and other experts in the field for an effective law that venues can put into place quickly and affordably. The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has also commented saying that it’s a key responsibility of any government to help ensure its citizens are safe.
Would the New Law Have Prevented the Manchester Arena Attack?
It’s all but impossible to be sure whether the new Protect duty law would have prevented the Manchester Arena attack. However, it still makes sense to ensure venue operators are meeting safety obligations where their customer’s safety is concerned.
The new law will insist staff members receive training that will help them identify suspicious behaviour. Identifying such behaviour before somebody can carry out an attack will help security act as quickly as possible. And by undertaking a risk assessment, venues and their staff can take action to help ensure potential attackers aren’t able to take advantage of any weak points.
But while such plans may not be able to prevent attacks outright, they can still at least help to reduce the loss of life if an attack does take place. And if even one life is saved by the new law then it would certainly have been a worthwhile process.
The new protect duty law is set to come into force sometime this year, and for many, it cannot come soon enough. Regardless, venues will be offered assistance to help them comply with the law which will, in turn, help ensure their patron’s safety. The law will also cover different tiers, with large venues excepted to be more stringent than smaller ones.
If you are a venue operator then it’s a good idea to check up on the new regulation if you haven’t done so already. Being as prepared as possible will help to ensure adapting to comply with the law will help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.