This factsheet was updated in November 2023.
On Tuesday 7th November, the King’s Speech set out the programme of legislation that the Government intends to pursue in the forthcoming Parliamentary session. The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill was included. The Bill is also known as ‘Martyn’s Law’ in tribute to Martyn Hett, who was tragically killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.
Ahead of introduction to Parliament, the government intends to launch a public consultation on the standard tier ensuring the Bill strikes the right balance between public protection and avoiding undue burdens on smaller premises, such as village halls and other community venues.
Why do we need Martyn’s Law?
There have been 14 terror attacks in the UK since the start of 2017.
The threat picture is complex, evolving, and enduring, with terrorists choosing to attack a broad range of locations.
Martyn’s Law will improve the safety and security of public venues and keep the British public safe from terrorism.
The Bill will make sure public premises and events are better prepared for, and protected from, terrorist attacks; requiring them to fulfil necessary but proportionate steps according to their capacity size to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack and reduce harm. Through Martyn’s Law, premises will be better prepared and ready to respond in the event of a terrorist attack.
We are aware through engagement with businesses that, without legal compulsion, counter terrorism security efforts often fall behind legally required activities, such as health and safety. Our expert security partners assess that individuals are more likely to take action that can reduce harm and save lives, if they have considered what they would do, and how, prior to a terrorist attack occurring.
What will Martyn’s Law do?
Through Martyn's Law premises will be better prepared, ready to respond, and their staff will know what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.
It will enhance public safety by ensuring there is better preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks. This will be done by mandating, for the first time, who is responsible for considering the risk from terrorism and how they would respond to a terrorist attack at certain premises and events.
The Bill will raise the security standard throughout the UK requiring a base level of security procedures to be in place at premises and events. Our expert security partners strongly consider that even basic knowledge will deliver a wholesale raising of the public safety bar.
Who will be in scope?
To be in scope:
- Premises and events must be accessible to the public.
- Premises must be used for a purpose listed in the Bill (e.g. entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink).
- Have a capacity of 100 or more individuals.
- Premises may be a building or outdoor locations which have a readily identifiable physical boundary and access by express permission.
- Provision is made in the Bill for temporary events such as festivals that have express permission to enter and a capacity of 800 or more individuals.
How will it work?
The Bill will establish a tiered model, linked to the activity that takes place at a premise or event and its capacity:
Enhanced tier – this 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, for example, live music premises or events, theatres, and department stores. Those responsible for an enhanced duty premises or qualifying public events must:
- notify the regulator of their premise or event;
- take ‘reasonably practicable’ measures that will reduce the risk of a terrorist attack occurring or physical harm being caused. The reasonably practicable test is utilised in other regulatory regimes e.g., Health and Safety, and will enable organisations to tailor their approach to the nature of the premises, and their activities and resources;
- keep and maintain a security document, aided by an assessment of the terrorism risk, which must also be provided to the regulator; and
- if the responsible person is a body corporate, they must appoint an individual as the designated senior individual for the premise or event.
Standard tier – ahead of introducing the Bill to Parliament, the Government will launch a consultation on the standard tier. This will make sure the Bill strikes the right balance between public protection and avoiding undue burdens on smaller premises.
Why is the government consulting on the standard tier?
The Government wants to ensure businesses and venues can deliver what is required of them rather than imposing conditions upon them that they will struggle to meet. This will mean the law stands the test of time, and be accessible, proportionate and deliverable for smaller premises.
This follows concerns raised by the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Why is there a difference in thresholds for premises and events?
We want to strike the right balance between proportionality for different premises and events against ensuring appropriate security has been considered and taken forward.
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 premises; this is usually the operator or occupier. It also places a requirement for co-operation on those with aspects of control of the premises (e.g., the owner of a premises where not the operator) where necessary to deliver requirements.
Will this affect accessibility?
These changes should never compromise accessibility.
How will Martyn’s Law be enforced?
The Regulator will monitor compliance and advise premises within scope. The Regulator will have the tools to address non-compliance, including investigatory powers and monetary sanctions.
How will you ensure this doesn’t create undue burden on businesses?
We have consulted with the business community and this 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 the Government to 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.
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.
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. Recent attacks demonstrate that terrorists may choose to target a broad range of locations. It is therefore right that we bolster the UK’s preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks, through the implementation of requirements proportionate to the overall level of risk.
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 legislation be introduced?
Following the conclusion of the consultation process, the Government will introduce the Bill to Parliament as soon as parliamentary time allows.