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The road to Martyn's Law: All change?

The government opens a further consultation to run until 18 March 2024.

Those familiar with Martyn’s Law will know that it is a product of the tireless work of Figen Murray O.B.E. whose son, Martyn Hett, was tragically killed in the Manchester Arena Attack on 22 May 2017. Following that attack and the findings of the Manchester Arena Inquiry there was a consensus in government and across the main political parties that more should be done to ensure that organisations prevent, prepare for and mitigate against the impact of future terror attacks.

An initial public Consultation (“the Consultation”) ran between 26 February 2021 and 2 July 2021. The outcome of the Consultation was broad support for the creation of a ‘Protect Duty’. The Protect Duty is one of the four pillars of the Government’s Counter Terrorism Strategy: Contest.

The Queen’s Speech on 2 May 2022 signalled an intention to legislate to protect the United Kingdom and its people and, on 2 May 2023, draft legislation was placed before Parliament in the form of the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill (“the Bill”).

On 6 June 2023 the Home Affairs Select Committee (“the Committee”) began its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. Over the course of a number of weeks it received evidence from a variety of witnesses and on 27 July 2023, as Parliament ceased work for the Summer recess, the Committee published their report.

The Committee expressed a number of concerns:-

  • they felt that there was a lack of clarity as to the purpose of the Bill;
  • the draft legislation was described as complex and lacked associated guidance materials to aid interpretation;
  • there is a dearth of information as to the identity, role and powers of the Regulator; and
  • they also questioned whether the legislative approach to the standard tier was proportionate.

The Committee also made a number of recommendations to Government, including the publication of guidance, staged implementation of the Bill, mandatory life-saving courses and statutory standards for new buildings.

The Government’s response to the Committee’s report has been overdue since 27 September 2023. However, work continues towards the implementation of Martyn’s Law. The Government has repeated its commitment to the Bill in the King’s Speech on 7 November 2023. On 5 February 2024 the Government also announced a further Consultation which will now run until 18 March 2024.

Public Consultation

On 5 February 2024, Tom Tugendhat, Minister for Security, confirmed that the Government has opened a further Consultation to run until 18 March 2024. The focus of the Consultation is informative. It shows that the Government is committed to moving forwards with their plans for the enhanced tier but that they have rethought their approach to premises in the standard tier.

 The intention in the Bill is that the standard tier will apply to publicly accessible premises, undertaking qualifying activities and operating within a defined boundary where the capacity of those premises is between 100–799 persons. For premises with a capacity exceeding 800 they will be in the enhanced tier.

The original vision of the standard tier envisaged that duty holders would access a range of standardised online resources to assist them in the preparation of a premises risk assessment and training. Having digested the feedback of the Committee, the Government has now signalled a different approach. The new approach is outcome focused and looks to prepare duty holders to ensure that they are ready to respond to a terror attack, thus shifting the emphasis of the duty from prevention of terrorist acts to preparation to respond to them.   

The Government’s view is that this approach bring clarity and consistency. The move away from a prescribed approach avoids a one size fits all mistake and enables organisations to implement measures to a standard of reasonable practicability. That standard previously only applied to premises in the enhanced tier whose duty holders are required to prepare a Response Plan.

The Government is currently inviting feedback on these proposals and on the issue of how the costs of meeting the standard tier duty will be met. Read the consultation.

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