Preparing your business for the introduction of Martyn’s Law (Protect Duty)

25 July, 2023

On Monday 19th December, the Government announced details for the Protect Duty, now to be known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ in tribute of Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.

The legislation will apply across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as national security is a reserved matter for the UK Government.   

What will Martyn’s Law do?  

Martyn’s Law will keep people safe, enhancing national security and reducing the risk to the public from terrorism by the protection of public venues.   

It will place a requirement on those responsible for certain locations to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.  

The legislation will ensure parties are prepared, ready to respond and know what to do in the event of an attack. Better protection will be delivered through enhanced security systems, staff training, and clearer processes.  

Who will be in scope? 

Premises will fall within the scope of the duty where “qualifying activities” take place.

This will include locations for purposes such as entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums and galleries, sports grounds, public areas of local and central government buildings (e.g. town halls), visitor attractions, temporary events, places of worship, health and education.

It is proposed that the duty will apply to eligible premises which are either:

  • a building (including collections of buildings used for the same purposes, e.g. a campus);
  • or a location/event (including a temporary event) that has a defined boundary, allowing capacity to be known.

Eligible locations whose maximum occupancy meets the above specified thresholds will then be drawn into the relevant tier. Therefore, premises will be drawn into the scope of the duty if they meet the following three tests: 

  • That the premises is an eligible one – i.e., building or event with a defined boundary.  
  • That a qualifying activity takes place at the location; and  
  • That the maximum occupancy of the premises meets a specified threshold – either 100+ or 800+ 

How will it work?  

The Bill will impose a duty on the owners and operators of certain locations to increase their preparedness for and protection from a terrorist attack by requiring them to take proportionate steps, depending on the size and nature of the activities that take place there.  

Proportionality is a fundamental consideration for this legislation. It will therefore establish a tiered model, linked to the activity that takes place at a location and its capacity: 

  • A standard tier will drive good preparedness outcomes. Duty holders will be required to undertake simple yet effective activities to improve protective security and preparedness. This will apply to qualifying locations with a maximum capacity of over 100. This could include larger retail stores, bars or restaurants.  
  • An enhanced tier will see additional requirements placed on high-capacity locations in recognition of the potential catastrophic consequences of a successful attack. This will apply to locations with a capacity of over 800 people at any time. This could include live music venues, theatres and department stores. 

What will the new law require from organisations?

The law is likely to be applied on a tiered basis, due to the increased potential impact at more crowded locations. It is not currently outlined how capacities of premises will be calculated, and this will be outlined by the Secretary of State.

For smaller premises within the expected standard tier with a capacity of 100-799 people, this would involve simple low-cost (or no-cost) preparedness measures, such as:

  • Demonstrating awareness of the threat from terrorism
  • Completing a terrorism evaluation
  • Ensuring staff are adequately trained and aware of the threat, likely attack methods, and how to respond
  • Taking basic mitigation steps, such as having an actionable lockdown plan, knowing how to evacuate, and having access to first aid equipment.

Premises and events within the enhanced tier with a capacity of over 800 persons are expected to fall within the enhanced tier. Some of the potential requirements include:

  • Completing an enhanced terrorism risk assessment, identifying relevant threats
  • Producing, maintaining, and rehearsing a dedicated security plan, including reasonably practicable measures to reduce the risk of terrorism acts occurring onsite, and reducing the potential for harm
  • Providing terrorism protection training for relevant workers.

All qualifying premises and events will likely be required to register with a regulator (to be defined and established) and provide necessary information, such as type of premises / event type, as well as details of the responsible person and senior officer (in the case of Enhanced premises / events) for implementing the legislated requirements.

When will this new law take effect?

Currently the legislation is a draft bill, being scrutinised by the Home Affairs Select Committee within the parliamentary approvals process. The law is currently expected to be passed in spring of 2024. It is anticipated that a grace period will follow to allow time for businesses to implement the necessary changes.

How can operators prepare for the introduction of Martyn’s Law?

Although no date has yet been set for the introduction of the legislation, we strongly advise that operators educate themselves on the Bill as soon as possible.

To do this, please see:

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