What is Martyn’s Law?

May 10, 2024
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In the UK, there have been 14 terror attacks since 2017, ranging in location and severity, and the threat of terrorism remains high. It’s a complex issue and one that affects everyone, so what can the UK Government do to help keep the British public safe from such heinous terrorist acts? In this article, we’ll look at the introduction of Martyn’s Law, which has recently been progressed through parliament and will become part of UK legislation in the near future. We’ll explain the purpose of Martyn’s Law, outline what this means for public venues and premises and look at how this law aims to keep the general public safe from harm.

What is the Purpose of Martyn’s Law?

Martyn’s Law is the alternative name for the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) draft Bill which was established in tribute to Martyn Hett, a young man who tragically lost his life alongside 21 other people in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.

Following the 2017 attack, the Manchester Arena Inquiry Report recommended that legislation was needed to improve the safety and security of public venues in the UK. Currently, there is no legislative requirement for public venues to consider terrorist threats and relevant security measures – something that Martyn’s Law intends to change.

The threat of terrorist acts is complex and forever changing but, from recent terror attacks, it’s clear that a broad range of public locations may be targeted, no matter their size or purpose. Martyn’s Law will ensure that public venues are better prepared for terrorist attacks and are ready to respond in the event of an emergency.

Who is Martyn Hett?

Martyn Hett is a 29-year-old man who was killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack, along with 21 other people. The terrorist responsible was 22-year-old Salman Abedi, who detonated a suicide bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert being held at the music venue.

Martyn Hett was a much-loved social media manager who received ‘unsurvivable’ injuries as a result of the terrorist attack. The report into his death stated that the emergency services failed to work together following the Manchester Arena bombing and recommended a change in legislation to improve the safety of public venues.

What Does Martyn’s Law Mean for Organisations?

Martyn’s Law places responsibility on the person who has control of a public premises – usually the operator or occupier – to ensure security measures are in place. The aim is for all public premises to be better prepared and ready to respond to terrorist attacks, and for all staff to know what to do should such an attack occur. It’s the person in control of the premises who must ensure this is the case.

To comply with Martyn’s Law, organisations must consider:

  • The risks posed by terrorism.
  • How they would respond to a terrorist attack.
  • What security procedures need to be in place at the venue or during an event.

The types of venues and premises that are covered by Martyn’s Law include:

  • All premises and events that are accessible to the public. This could be a building, such as Manchester Arena, but it could also be an outdoor location with a boundary, like a food market.
  • Premises that are permanent, like a church building, or temporary, like a music festival.
  • Premises that are used for any purpose listed in the Bill, including entertainment and leisure, retail, and food and drink.
  • Premises with a capacity of 100 or more individuals.

Martyn’s Law also established a tiered model which explains what the requirements are for venues of different capacities:

The Enhanced Tier – the Enhanced Tier of Martyn’s Law applies to high-capacity venues of 800 or more individuals. These premises are more likely to have catastrophic consequences if a terrorist attack occurred there, so they must have more security measures in place. This includes premises such as live music venues, theatres and large department stores.

The Standard Tier – the Standard Tier of Martyn’s Law applies to smaller premises with a capacity of 100 to 799 individuals. This includes all places of worship, no matter their capacity, but also covers venues such as community groups, cinemas and restaurants. Charities that host events may also fall into this category, depending on the number of people present.

Additional FAQs on Martyn’s Law (Protect Duty)

Below are some common FAQs on Martyn’s Law that you may find useful:

When will Martyn’s Law be introduced?drop down menu

There is currently no set date for when Martyn’s Law will become part of UK legislation. The Bill is still in the consultation stages and the Government plans to introduce it to Parliament as soon as possible.

How will Martyn’s Law be enforced?drop down menu

Premises that are covered by Martyn’s Law will be monitored by the Regulator, likely by inspection. It’s expected that the Government will have the power to issue monetary sanctions for breaches of the law following a failed inspection. Statutory guidance on Martyn’s Law will also be created to help premises comply.

Will Martyn’s Law apply to all of the UK?drop down menu

The Martyn’s Law legislation will apply across all of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Does Martyn’s Law apply to my venue?drop down menu

Martyn’s Law will apply to all venues that are accessible to the public, whether for free or for an entry fee. Whilst there is no definitive list of venues, qualifying public premises includes places such as shops, entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants, railway stations, bus stations, nightclubs, sports grounds and facilities, outdoor visitor attractions, department stores, cinemas and theatres.

I volunteer at a small public venue, like a village hall – does Martyn’s Law apply to me?drop down menu

It’s evident that terrorists choose a range of locations to attack, no matter their size or purpose, so all public venues need to be prepared to protect the public from terrorist attacks. This includes public premises where people volunteer or any small venue where 100+ people may be present. Smaller venues, like village halls, will fall into the Standard Tier.

How were the Enhanced and Standard tiers determined? drop down menu

The Government considers the capacity of a venue to be most closely linked to the risk of harm, so this was the criterion used for determining the tiers. The capacity thresholds (100-799 for Standard and 800+ for Enhanced) were established alongside discussion with security experts.

Will my venue need to spend lots of money on security measures to comply with the law? drop down menu

The aim of Martyn’s Law is not to create an undue burden on people responsible for public places. Your venue should take ‘appropriate’ and ‘proportionate’ measures to ensure your staff and the public are protected from harm, such as enhanced CCTV security systems, trained on-site security personnel and staff training on safety processes. The venue can spend as little or as much as necessary to implement these security measures.

Will Martyn’s Law prevent future terrorist attacks on public venues? drop down menu

Martyn’s Law does not intend to prevent terrorist attacks from happening but instead to ensure premises in the UK are prepared for, and protected against, the impact of potential terrorist attacks. Martyn’s Law is part of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy – CONTEST.

With the threat of terrorist action remaining high in the UK, it’s clear that Martyn’s Law is an essential piece of legislation for the safety of the British public. The loss of life at the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack was disastrous for the UK and it’s essential that public premises and events have well-considered and proportionate measures in place to respond better in future.

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