02 March 2020 | Facilitate team
The government is to consult with owners and operators of public venues and spaces on new legislation obliging them to tighten security to deter terror attacks.
Security minister James Brokenshire (Monday 24 February) announced plans today to introduce a 'protect duty' law that would require owners and operators of public spaces and venues to put in place measures to keep the public safe from terrorist action.
Delivering on the government's manifesto commitment to improve the safety and security of public spaces, the duty would reflect lessons learned following the terrorist attacks in 2017, as well as more recent outrages.
The proposals follow discussions with victims' groups such as the Martyn's Law campaign, founded by Figen Murray, whose son was killed in the Manchester Arena attack on 22 May 2017.
The mooted legislation, to be consulted on this spring, would put the onus on venue operators to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and "take proportionate and reasonable measures to prepare for and protect the public from such an attack".
This could mean increased physical security, having training in place, incident response plans and exercises for staff on what to do during an incident.
Brokenshire said: "Our first priority is keeping the public safe and preventing more families from suffering the heartbreak of losing a loved one.
"The devastating attacks in 2017, and more recently at Fishmongers' Hall and Streatham, are stark reminders of the current threat we face. We are in complete agreement with campaigners such as Figen Murray on the importance of venues and public spaces having effective and proportionate protective security and preparedness measures to keep people safe.
"Of course, it is important that this new law is proportionate. This public consultation will ensure we put in place a law that will help protect the public while not putting undue pressure on businesses" he added.
Graham Williams, who chairs the safety and security committee of industry body Revo, representing hundreds of retailers, high street landlords and consultants, said: " As owners of retail spaces, we take our responsibility for ensuring the safety of our customers and retailers very seriously and therefore welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Home Office on this initiative. We look forward to contributing to this consultation on behalf of our industry."
Matt Maer, Canary Wharf Group's director of security and resilience, said: "This legislation has the potential to make a significant impact on public security, improving the situation for people as they go about their daily lives.
The public consultation will seek views from business organisations, public authorities, the security industry and campaign groups to ensure the proposals remain "proportionate for publicly accessible spaces and venues across the country". It will ask for views from business and the public sector on the proportionality, scope of the duty, and how it should be enforced.
The government said it is continuing to engage with industry bodies to encourage them to adopt best practice, as well as working with Counter Terrorism Police and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure "to extend the reach of advice, guidance and training across all sectors".