Protect Duty (Martyn’s Law) Bill Update

On 19 December 2022, the Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman, made a statement announcing the foundational policy elements that will form the basis of the upcoming Protect Duty Bill (also known as Martyn’s Law).

The proposed Martyn’s Law will seek to improve the safety and security of citizens so they can enjoy public premises without fear of terrorism by improving protective security and organisational preparedness at a wide range of locations across the UK, including visiting venues, retail areas, and other publicly accessible venues. Those responsible will be required to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate, proportionate mitigation measures. The two primary objectives for Martyn’s Law will be to i) clarify who is responsible for security activity at locations in scope, thereby increasing accountability; and ii) improve outcomes UK- wide so that security activity is delivered to a consistent level. An inspection and enforcement regime will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with Martyn’s Law.

Legislation will establish a tiered model, introducing a requirements framework that is linked to the type of activity that takes place at eligible locations and the number of people (occupancy) that the location can safely accommodate at any time. The requirements for each tier are:

  • Standard- locations with a maximum occupancy of greater than 100 people at any time will be required to undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve protective security and preparedness. This will be achieved by accessing free awareness raising materials and development of a basic preparedness plan considering how best a location can respond to a terrorist event in their area.
  • Enhanced- locations with an occupancy of 800+ at any time will additionally be required to take forward a risk assessment and subsequently develop and implement a security plan. Enhanced Duty Holders will be required to meet a reasonably practicable test.

Locations with a maximum occupancy at any time of less than 100 will fall out of scope but will be encouraged to adopt good security practices on a voluntary basis. This will be supported by free guidance and training materials.

Premises will fall within scope of Martyn’s Law where “qualifying activities” take place. This will include activities 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 Martyn’s Law will apply to eligible locations which are either: a building (including collections of buildings used for the same purposes, e.g., a campus); or 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 be then drawn into the relevant tier.

To deliver clarity of To deliver clarity of accountability, Martyn’s Law will define parties obliged to meet its requirements. This will be a simple formulation to establish persons in control of premises. Where there are multiple parties at a location, Martyn’s Law will primarily place obligations on a lead party whilst placing requirements on others to co-operate with that party, such as in the development of risk assessments and security plans. Martyn’s Law Guidance will detail how and where it would be envisaged that parties will need to co-ordinate on assessments and plans and provide examples of good practice.

Enforcement will mainly be delivered through a civil sanctions regime. In all but the most serious cases a civil monetary penalty is likely to be issued. For cases of serious breaches, a limited number of criminal offences will be available. A maximum penalty of up to £18m or 5% of worldwide turnover will be available for Enhanced locations. Standard locations will be subject to a maximum £10,000 penalty.

The government continues to engage with a range of stakeholders and other government departments to further develop the legislation, which will be introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

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