Trustees and other owners and operators of certain premises to which the public have access need to keep an eye on the development of the Protect Duty or "Martyn’s Law", named after one of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. The aim of the legislation will be to enhance public protection from terrorism at venues to which the public have access by placing duties on the owners or operators of those venues in relation to security systems, staff training and other counter-terrorism mitigation measures.
The detail of draft legislation is expected this spring, when the draft Protect Duty Bill is due its first reading, but current indications are that premises will be caught if they satisfy the following tests:
- The premises must be eligible ie they comprise a building or an event with a defined boundary. Temporary events will also fall within scope, as will museums, visitor attractions and collections of buildings used for the same purpose, such as university campuses or hospitals,
- A qualifying activity is taking place. For some premises, this will be a specific activity, such as entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, or a sporting event. For other premises, to which the public have access in any event, such as hospitals or colleges, they will be within scope, without the requirement for any specific activity to be taking place; and
- The maximum occupancy of the premises meets a specified threshold, either 100+ (standard tier) or 800+ (enhanced tier).
Premises and events likely to be affected, include among others stadiums and arenas, fairs and festivals, schools, student accommodation and university and college campuses (as well as, for example, shopping centres, supermarkets and restaurants).
Where premises are caught, the duty will require owners and operators to take proportionate protection measures, depending on the size and nature of the premises or venue. For the standard tier this is described as "easy and simple" activities to meet their obligations, such as staff training and a preparedness plan. Clarification of the requirements for the enhanced tier are awaited, but it seems likely that additional measures, such as a risk assessment and security plan to a “reasonably practicable standard” will be required. There will be limited exclusions such as offices, private residential locations and locations with large floor space and low occupancy in practice (eg warehouses and storage facilities). An Inspectorate will enforce compliance with the duty through a range of sanctions.
The government is at pains to stress that the new duty should involve only "appropriate and proportionate measures" so as not to create an undue burden on business. But some degree of additional burden seems inevitable.Trustees and other owners whose premises will be affected or who hold events on their premises which will be affected, will need to understand the scope of the duty and whether it falls to them or a third party. For smaller premises this may mean basic risk assessments and protocols arranged in-house; for larger premises, supply contracts with security firms should place all compliance and insurance obligations with those contractors. Where a site is being hired out for an event, the event licence will need to cover compliance and insurance angles.
A new online platform has been created by the Home Office to provide guidance on the Protect Duty, see here. ProtectUK will be the "go to" resource for the new law, as well as advice and guidance on the requirements under it. Legislation will come forward as soon as parliamentary time allows, and a bill is expected in this session.
If you require further information about anything covered in this article, please contact James Maxwell or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.
This publication is a general summary of the law as at the date of publication. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, March 2023