Venues should be responsible for protecting visitors from terrorism, the Home Office has said.
There is currently no legislative requirement for organisations or venues to consider or employ security measures at the vast majority of public places, but new rules could apply to any venue with a capacity of more than 100 people the government has said today.
As the government published the results of is consultation into proposed Protect Duty legislation, Minister for Security and Borders Damian Hinds MP said: “Those responsible for public places should take measures to protect the public and to prepare their staff to respond appropriately.”
The Protect Duty has been championed by victims’ groups, including the Martyn’s Law campaign, which was established by Figen Murray following the loss of her son, Martyn, in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.
2,755 responses were received from a variety of organisations, sectors and campaigners, with the majority supporting the government’s proposals to introduce stronger measures, including a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks.
The majority of respondents to the consultation agreed that legislation should primarily apply to publicly accessible locations with capacities of more than 100 visitors.
Very strong views were expressed regarding the need for accountability, such as the need for clear roles and responsibilities, particularly amongst event organisers, and those at senior level within venues and organisations.
Half the respondents were in favour of an inspectorate that would identify key vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, as well as share best practice. There was also an even split of those who were supportive of the use of civil penalties to ensure compliance to the duty.
A recurring subject throughout the consultation and its responses was concern that the new legislation may negatively impact organisations financially.
The government said a further impact assessment would consider financial implications, in tandem with any wider impact. A recurring subject throughout the consultation and its responses was concern that the duty may negatively impact organisations financially.
Analysis revealed that 66% of respondents to this question disagreed with the government’s cost and benefit estimates.
Other key findings from the consultation included:
- 7 in 10 respondents agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the public from attacks. This included ensuring staff were trained to respond appropriately.
- 55% of respondents said they currently access government counter-terrorism advice.
- 50% of respondents said they currently carry out terrorism risk assessments.
- The average amounts organisations spent each year on mitigation measures against terrorist attacks ranged from £20,000 to £9.6million.
- 66% of respondents disagreed with the cost estimates of implementing new duties – citing policing and insurance costs
Minister for Security and Borders Damian Hinds MP said: “The Protect Duty would be one means by which we seek to further enhance public security, sitting alongside our existing and ongoing work programmes to achieve this aim.
“It is right that those responsible for public places should take measures to protect the public and to prepare their staff to respond appropriately.
“In short, taking measures to ensure that there is an appropriate and consistent approach to protective security and preparedness at public places is a reasonable ask. However, the responses also highlighted the challenge of which organisations should be in the scope, and what would constitute proportionate security measures. This includes ensuring that there is not an undue burden on organisations, particularly those which are smaller in size or staffed by volunteers, such as places of worship. These are issues I am considering carefully.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year, that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”
Additional points raised at consultation events, included questions over whether the duty would apply to areas immediately outside venues as well as within their footprint, how interested parties would be required to work together and whether the duty should cover incidents motivated by other causes than terrorism and whether broader security threats such as cyber security and crime prevention should be included.