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Home / News and Insights / Blogs / Charity Law / 49: Martyn’s Law and the duty to protect premises from terrorist attack – opportunity to comment on the draft Bill by 23 June

As reported previously, the Government announced in December 2022 that it would proceed with legislation to introduce a new statutory ‘Protect Duty’ on owners and operators of certain locations to take proportionate steps to keep people safe from terrorist attack. The legislation has now been published in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny. On 24 May 2023 the Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee issued a call for evidence which will close on 23 June 2023, so charities wishing to submit evidence don’t have much time to do so.

Martyn’s Law and the draft Bill

The Explanatory Notes to the draft Bill state that it

‘Will help keep people safe and enhance national security by ensuring preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks. Proportionate new security requirements will be introduced for certain public venues and locations’.

It is named Martyn’s Law after Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.

The proposals for the legislation follow a consultation held in 2021 and further consideration in Volume 1 of the Manchester Arena Inquiry. These have led to what is now the Terrorism (Protection of premises) Draft Bill, which has been published together with Explanatory Notes and an impact assessment among other key documents.

How would Martyn’s Law affect charities?

Charities which own or occupy ‘qualifying public premises’ or hold ‘qualifying public events’ would be in scope of the new duty. There is no exemption for charities under the draft Bill, although the duty would not apply to premises with a capacity below 100 individuals or those used as private dwellings or offices.

Very broadly, the gist of the draft legislation is that:

  • premises within scope are ‘qualifying public premises’ and would include those open to the public with a public capacity of 100 or more individuals used primarily for one or more specified uses;
  • the specified uses are defined very broadly and would include use for museums, theatres and other arts venues, schools and other education establishments, hospitals and places of worship;
  • there would also be ‘qualifying public events’, namely temporary events held at non-qualifying public premises with a capacity of 800 or over;
  • there would be two tiers of qualifying public premises with different duties applying to each:
    • Standard duty premises would be those with a capacity of 100 to 799
    • Enhanced duty premises would be those with a capacity of 800 or over
    • However, there is provision in the draft Bill for some which would be subject to the enhanced duty to be treated as subject to the standard duty, and vice versa
  • standard duty premises would be required to undertake what is said to be ‘low-cost’ activities such as undertaking a ‘standard’ terrorism evaluation in which they consider how best their premises can respond in the event of a terrorism event and ensuring that relevant workers have appropriate terrorism protection training;
  • enhanced duty premises would be required to do things such as carrying out an ‘enhanced’ terrorism risk assessment and training for relevant workers, as well as implementing a security plan and ‘reasonably practicable’ security measures. They would also need to appoint an individual as the designated senior officer for the premises, responsible for coordinating completion of activities such as the terrorism risk assessment. Qualifying public events would be subject to broadly similar requirements; and
  • a new inspection and enforcement (and penalty) regime would also be put in place, including a new regulator with whom qualifying premises would need to be registered and qualifying events notified.

Should we comment on the draft Bill?

The draft Bill is potentially exceptionally wide-ranging – the published documents estimate that it would apply to approximately 300,000 different premises across the UK.

Once implemented, it will impose duties which could have a significant impact on charities of all sizes across the sector. The Government has recognised the potential impact and the challenges in seeking to introduce the proposed regime by inviting the Home Affairs Select Committee to open an inquiry to scrutinise the draft Bill. This pre-legislative scrutiny is intended to allow

‘Parliament and stakeholders to comment on proposals prior to introduction to the House, and Government to consider and make changes in light of these’.

In inviting this scrutiny, the Security Minister recognised, among other things, the ‘novel nature of the legislation’ as well as the potential impact on smaller organisations and specifically invited the Committee’s views as to how to ensure that the measures in the Bill would be ‘robust yet proportionate’.

The Committee has opened an inquiry to ‘examine the draft Bill to assess the adequacy of its policy objectives and key provisions’. Charities in scope under the proposed legislation may provide valuable evidence to assist the Committee in understanding the likely impact and whether the draft Bill in its current form would indeed be striking the right balance between robustness and proportionality.

How do we comment on the draft Bill?

The Committee has issued a call for evidence to seek views through which evidence can be submitted. The webpage also has links to guidance on submitting evidence.

The call for evidence is only open until midnight on 23 June 2023, so charities wishing to comment will need to act quickly.

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