The Government has confirmed that the new counter terrorism “Protect Duty” legislation will become law in the next session of Parliament.
It brings about welcome changes which require organisations to take measures to protect the public from terrorist attacks. Read our article as we discuss what will be required of organisations and the benefits it will bring.
What is the Protect Duty legislation?
In simple terms the Protect Duty law aims to make venue owners and event organisers responsible for keeping people safe from terrorist attacks.
It follows the high profile and widely backed campaign by Figen Murray, whose son Martyn died in the Manchester Arena suicide attack in 2017 where 23 people were killed.
Who will the Protect Duty law apply to?
Owners or organisers of publicly accessible events and venues with a capacity of 100 people or more will be expected to adhere to the law.
The legislation will also apply to large organisations with 250 employees or more that occupy publicly accessible locations. This includes organisations with multiple premises with regular public footfall, such as chains of betting shops, petrol stations and chemists.
What will the Protect Duty law require from businesses?
Organisations will be expected to consider and implement “reasonable” security measures with the aim of preserving life.
These measures could include training staff on how to respond to threats, implementing robust security policies, or introducing physical safety elements such as barriers.
These measures don’t have to be expensive. Specialist physical security products are only likely to be installed at larger sites and prevention is seen as a combination of physical and behavioural interventions “deployed in a complementary manner”.
Benefits the Protect Duty law will bring
1. Making venues responsible for security and enshrining safety in law
Aside from some sports grounds or on public transport, there are currently no requirements for organisations to take steps to prevent such incidents. This includes installing security measures, having an action plan, or giving specific training.
The Protect Duty legislation changes this.
For some, the laws could mean that much of what they do already – which may have been put in place following the Manchester attack – is merely enshrined in law.
For others, it will mean that the matter of public safety, and proactively understanding how vulnerable their venue or event is to an attack, is placed at the top of their to-do list.
The Government concedes that it doesn’t want to add to the cost of hosting events, but financial considerations have to be balanced with the need to protect lives.
2. Preventing other crime
The majority of people who took part in the consultation welcomed the chance to learn about security and what measures they could take.
It should be noted that measures put in place to prevent a terrorist attack can equally prevent criminal acts and vice versa. This means that a physical safety audit can have a range of benefits – not just regarding counterterrorism, but for wider safety purposes.
3. Making outdoor events safer
While outdoor events in public places attended by more than 100 people are definitely included in the Protect Duty framework, the Government has also considered the question of other outdoor public places.
This includes parks, city centre squares and pavements on bridges. All of these places have witnessed acts of terrorism and are vulnerable to low-sophistication attacks using knives or vehicles, which the Government feels could be subject to appropriate security measures.
4. Creating a culture of security
In short, Protect Duty is like a fire safety risk assessment. The key objective is to drive an improved culture of security, where owners and operators understand the potential threats, the level of danger and can implement reasonable, proportionate and coordinated security measures in response.
We’ll have to wait for the final wording when the Act is passed, but organisations should start to consider their role in protecting the public from terror threats.
In the meantime, you could watch our webinar for more information on how to prepare for the Protect Duty legislation.
If you have any questions please email get in touch.