This factsheet was updated in May 2023.
On Tuesday 2 May 2023, the Government published the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law, for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
What is pre-legislative scrutiny and why is it necessary?
Pre-legislative scrutiny is the detailed examination of an early draft of a Bill that is done by a parliamentary select committee before the final version is drawn up by the Government. It allows parliament and stakeholders to comment on proposals prior to introduction to the House, and Government to consider and make changes in light of these.
Why do we need Martyn’s Law?
There have been 15 terror attacks in the UK since 2017. These tragic attacks have caused deaths and casualties amongst people going about their everyday lives.
The terrorist threat we currently face is multifaceted, diverse, and continually evolving. As such, it remains difficult to predict terrorist attack targets, with attempts being harder to spot and stop.
We need to improve security and ensure robust, proportionate, and consistent measures are in place at public venues to make sure we can better prepare and improve public security, in light of possible future attacks.
We are aware through engagement with businesses that, without legal compulsion, counter terrorism security efforts often fall behind legally required activities. As a result, the prioritisation, consideration and application of security processes and measures is often inconsistent.
What will Martyn’s Law do?
Martyn’s Law will help further improve public safety, enhancing our national security and reducing the risk to the public from terrorism by the protection of public premises and events.
It will place a requirement on those responsible for certain premises and events to consider the threat from terrorism and implement appropriate and proportionate mitigation measures.
The legislation will ensure responsible persons 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?
The proposals would apply to premises which are accessible to the public, are used primarily for a purpose listed in the Bill (e.g. for entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums and galleries, sports grounds, public areas of local and central Government buildings, visitor attractions, places of worship, health, and education establishments), and have a public capacity greater than 100 individuals. Premises in scope will include buildings and permanent outdoor premises which have a physical boundary. The Bill will also make provisions for events (e.g. festivals) which have a public capacity of 800 or more individuals, and where access to the event is by express permission (i.e. payment or ticketed entry).
How will it work?
The Bill will impose requirements on premises and events 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 premise or event and its capacity:
- A standard tier will drive good preparedness outcomes. Responsible persons will be required to undertake simple yet effective activities to improve protective security and preparedness. This will apply to qualifying premises with a maximum capacity of 100 or more individuals. This could include larger retail stores, bars, or restaurants.
- An enhanced tier will see additional requirements placed on high-capacity venues in recognition of the potential catastrophic consequences of a successful attack. This will apply to premises and events with a capacity of 800 or more individuals. This could include live music premises or events, theatres, and department stores.
What will those in scope of the standard tier specifically have to do?
Standard duty holders will need to undertake easy and simple activities to meet their obligations. This will include completion of a plan to ensure better preparedness, free training, awareness raising, and cascading of information to staff.
The aim is to ensure staff are better prepared to respond quickly to evolving situations, aware of what processes they should follow, able to make rapid decisions and carry out actions that will save lives. This could be as simple as locking doors to delay attackers progress and access, whilst guiding staff and customers to alternative exits. It could also enable lifesaving treatment to be administered by staff whilst awaiting the arrival of emergency services.
What will those in scope of enhanced duty premises and events specifically be asked to do?
A risk assessment and security plan, considered to a ‘reasonably practicable’ standard, will be required. The premise or event will take forward reasonably practicable measures (including systems and processes) to mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks occurring or physical harm being caused as a result of such an attack. Responsible persons will assess the balance of risk reduction against the time, money and effort required to achieve a successful level of security preparedness - a recognised standard in other regulatory regimes (including Fire and Health and Safety).
Why is there a difference in thresholds for premises and events?
It is considered that public premises which are permanently open to the public are better able to take forward security measures and any associated costs with requirements, than events of a temporary nature. The Bill seeks to strike the right balance between proportionality for different premises and events against ensuring appropriate security has been considered and taken forward. We will consider further whether we have got that balance right through the scrutiny period.
Who is responsible for requirements at a premise or event in scope?
The Bill places the requirement on the person who has control of the premise or event; this is usually the operator or occupier. It also places a requirement for co-operation on those with aspects of control of the premise or event (e.g. the owner of a premise where not the operator) where necessary to deliver requirements.
Will this affect accessibility?
The requirements for premises and events in scope will vary dependent on the outcome of their assessments, but would for many include changes to security systems and processes, and how staff are trained. As such, many changes the proposals would drive are likely to be ‘behind the scenes’ that the public would not notice. In some instances, where physical security features are considered to be required, there may be obvious changes to the public, but they should never compromise accessibility.
How will Martyn’s Law be enforced?
An inspection capability will be established to seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with the requirements. The draft Bill includes provisions to establish a Regulator, to provide for appropriate investigatory powers and enforcement actions they may undertake, and sanctions which may be applied for non-compliance. Sanctions are primarily based on monetary penalties.
How will you ensure this doesn’t create undue burden on businesses?
Consultation and ongoing liaison with the business community is integral to our approach. Government has carefully considered the impact on premises and events that may be captured. This includes ensuring requirements are proportionate whilst achieving better public security, and without placing undue burden on responsible persons. However, it is reasonable that many premises and events should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect their staff and the public.
Is there support for this legislation?
Seven in ten respondents to the Protect Duty consultation agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the public from attacks. This 18-week consultation closed on 2nd July 2021 and received a total of 2,755 responses from a wide range of participants across the UK.
The Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume One Report strongly recommended the introduction of a legislative requirement to improve the safety and security of public venues.
Figen Murray and the Martyn’s Law campaign team have tirelessly campaigned for the introduction of new legislation. Their efforts have helped Government raise awareness of this important issue.
Our engagement on the proposals, how they impact those in scope and how we can work together to improve public security continues with a wide range of stakeholders.
Proposals to date have been well received by the security community and Government’s commitment to this reform has been broadly welcomed in Parliament, as Members of both Houses recognise how important it is to improve safety and security for our citizens, so they can go about their lives without fear.
What are you doing to ensure that there is appropriate public security in place before Martyn’s Law is implemented?
Martyn’s Law is one part of our already extensive efforts across Government, including those of the police and security services, to combat the threat of terrorism. There remains an extensive programme of guidance and tools in place which have been developed by security experts, Counter Terrorism Policing, and other partners to provide stakeholders and others responsible for public venues, with high quality advice. Many businesses and organisations already do excellent work to improve their security and preparedness – however the absence of legislative requirements has at times led to inconsistencies and lack of clarity on accountability. Government wants to redress this position through this reform.
How will my business or organisation be supported on Martyn’s Law?
Dedicated guidance and support will be provided for Martyn’s Law, to ensure that those in scope have the required information on what to do and how best to do it. As part of this approach, we will expand the support available to those responsible for delivering security in public venues.
A new online platform has already been developed by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO), Home Office and Pool Reinsurance to support all those seeking to enhance their protective security. ProtectUK is a central, consolidated hub for trusted guidance, advice, learning and engagement with experts in security and Counter Terrorism. It serves as the ‘go to’ resource for free, 24/7 access to the latest information on protective security and is regularly updated with new engaging content and increased functionality.
What about premises/events run by charities and volunteers?
Charities, community groups and social enterprises own and operate a broad range of premises (museums, national trust and other sizeable public premises) and often host or operate events. Government will use the scrutiny period to better understand the impact on premises and events run by charitable and voluntary led groups, and in turn consider the proposals and how these group can be supported.
The proposals for places for worship are different to other premises in scope. All places of worship will be placed within the baseline tier, regardless of their capacity, barring a small cohort across all faiths that charge a fee for admission. This is in recognition of the existing range of mitigation activities delivered and funded by Government to reduce their vulnerability to terrorism and hate crime.
Will Martyn’s Law apply to all of the UK?
Yes. The legislation will apply across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as national security is a reserved matter for the UK Government.
When will this important legislation be introduced?
The Government will introduce the draft Bill to the House, following the completion of the scrutiny process, and as soon as parliamentary time allows.
When will this become law?
It is not possible to give a date. There will be a lead in time allowing for those captured by the legislation, if agreed, to prepare for commencement.