Martyn’s Law or Protect Duty Overview
The Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena, England, on the 22nd of May 2017, should have been like any other concert, with fans egressing the venue safely having enjoyed a headline concert.
However, as concert-goers and their parents egressed the venue on the evening of the 22nd May 2017, they were tragically caught up in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in British history.
Islamist extremist, Salman Abedi detonated a PBIED (Person-Borne Improvised Explosive Device) in a suicide attack, killing 22 and injuring 250 more.
The bombers brother, Hashem Abedi was jailed for a minimum of 55 years for aiding his brother in sourcing explosive materials.
The 2005 London bombings were the last attack of this size seen on British soil.
Following the attack, the UK government raised the country’s terror threat level to critical, the highest level.
In the same year, the Westminster and London Bridge attacks took place, further highlighting the risk posed by terrorists within crowded and high-profile places.
While the inquiry into the attack is ongoing it has found that significant lapses in security contributed to Manchester Arena being unsafe on the night of the incident.
The report can be found here, Volume 1: Security for the Arena.
Volume 2 and 3 are due this year.
One of the victims was 29-year-old Martyn Hett. Following the tragedy, Martyn’s mother, Figen Murray MSc OBE (MSc Counter-Terrorism) spoke about attending an event in Manchester the following year.
She had assumed that security searches would be extensive following the incident at the Manchester Arena, and made a conscious decision to only take a very small handbag with her.
She was horrified to find that upon arrival, no search and screening provisions were in place and security practices were not visible. This prompted Figen’s campaign, now known as the ‘Protect Duty’ or ‘Martyn’s Law’.
As a result of Martyn’s mother tirelessly campaigning for security to be placed higher on the agenda by event organizers and venues.
Figen has been lobbying the government to bring in new security measures since her son’s death in 2017.
She has been key in speaking out about the need for greater legislation around event security.
In 2021 Figen was awarded an OBE, for her Counter-Terrorism work and is also holds an MSc in Counter-Terrorism from The University of Central Lancashire.
Red Figen's full proposal for Martyn's Law here.
What is Protect Duty?
In the simplest terms, Martyn’s Law, or the Protect Duty, is a piece of legislation that aims to create a coherent and proportionate approach to protective security.
The proportionate part is very important as not all sites and venues are the same, so a blanket approach would be counterproductive and cause significant financial burden to businesses, for example a café would unlikely require the same provisions as a stadium.
Who does Protect Duty apply to?
The legislation has been designed to apply to any place or space that the public has access to. This covers an incredibly diverse number of sites and venues as you can imagine.
What is covered in Protect Duty?
Protect Duty proposes five key requirements for any publicly accessible location. These requirements are as follows;
A requirement that spaces and places to which the public have access engage with freely available counter-terrorism advice and training.
A requirement for those places to conduct vulnerability assessments of their operating places and spaces.
A requirement for those places to have a mitigation plan for the risks created by the vulnerabilities (Threat, Vulnerability, Risk Assessment or TVRA).
A requirement for those places to have a counter-terrorism plan.
A requirement for local authorities to plan for the threat of terrorism.
How does Protect Duty differ from existing legislation?
Currently, there are a number of existing pieces of legislation that apply to public places and spaces from a crime and/or safety point of view.
Crime and Disorder Act 1998.
Licensing Act 2003.
Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Civil Contingencies Act 2004.
However, surprising to many perhaps, there is no current legislation in the UK that is aimed solely at providing counter-terrorism protective security, or preparedness outcomes for publicly accessible locations.
What does Protect Duty mean for the future of event security?
The Protect Duty will hopefully have a positive impact on public safety, businesses, and the security industry providing people do not approach this as a ''tick in the box'' exercise.
What does Protect Duty mean us/you?
The new legislation could greatly improve public security and help protect people as they go about their day to day lives.
In particular, additional support from CTSA’s (Counter-terrorism Security Advisors), often serving law enforcement officers, could be hugely beneficial, as currently a shockingly low number of crowded places are prioritised for this level of support, this is not only within the UK may I add.
Of the estimated 650,000 crowded places in the UK, only about 0.2% are prioritised to receive direct support from the state’s network of counter-terrorism experts - Martyn’s Law Final Report.
However, there is always the fear that legislation surrounding security may deter people from attending an event, as many people may see this as a deterrent rather than a welcoming change.
There are numerous non-intrusive safety solutions that can be installed in public areas without having a detrimental effect on the look and feel of the space, specifically when it comes to HVM (Hostile Vehicle Mitigation), and better use of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) needs to be applied.
It is also important to note, that additional search and screening provisions may also deter people from attending due to waiting times, and this may also impact visitation (revenue), operators, venue owners and promoters may still try and push back, despite the Risk Assessment deem search and screening a requirement.
This is why taking a ‘proportionate’ approach as advocated by the legislation will be so important.
Remember, mitigating risk to ALARP is vital (As low as reasonably practicable), in short, for a risk to be ALARP, it must be possible to demonstrate that the cost involved in reducing the risk further would be grossly disproportionate to the benefit gained.
What does Protect Duty mean for the security industry?
The UK has one of the most mature and well-respected security industries in the world and has been a world leader in counter-terrorism for years.
The vast experience contained within the industry means that it is well prepared to support any requirements that emerge from new legislation, however this does not mean companies are financially able.
One suggestion raised within the Martyn’s Law Report is the possibility of an industry-led programme where funding is made available to security equipment providers rather than individual places or spaces.
There has already been a detrimental impact on event companies due to CV-19.
Consumer confidence to attend large events is still questionable, in some countries, not all.
It is believed that much of what is outlined in Protect Duty can be achieved without significant cost to businesses.
Education & Training
It is important to look at all aspects of an event’s operation to ascertain where vulnerabilities exist.
It is important that venues, organisations, and local authorities are well educated on security and crowd management safety, as well as having access to local security experts, organisations realistically need to have a more mature approach when it comes to security especially if this is to be much more than just a ''tick in the box'' exercise.
Successful security and crowd management strategies involve dialogue with a number of different stakeholders, from local emergency services, adjacent landowners, operators, and other departments across the business.
Who is responsible?
In short, we all are.
With many venues and organisations having Health & Safety personnel, there is a fear that the additional responsibility of ''Security'' and ''Crowd Safety'' will be included within this job role, especially within organizations with an immature approach to security and crowd safety.
The two disciplines, Security and Safety are very different and the needed knowledge to implement a security strategy for an event, venue, organisation would be absent.
The government continues to engage with a range of stakeholders and other government departments as well as using the feedback from the consultation to further develop the legislation, which will be introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity.
Thank you for reading.
Kindly reach out to me via InMail.
Adam WG Green MSyl CSMP