The United Kingdom has suffered a number of recent low-sophistication terror attacks at public spaces. This is in addition to the devastation of larger-scale atrocities, such as the Manchester Arena. Although terrorist attacks are rare, the threat from terrorism is real and increasingly unpredictable, with public spaces and crowded areas being increasingly viewed as attractive targets. The targeting of such locations is usually a hostile individual's choice which cannot always be anticipated. Attacks could potentially occur at any location, and preventing them can prove challenging, highlighting the government’s decision to consider what more could be done to improve public protection.
The Protect Duty will now to be known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, in tribute of Martyn Hett who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. It will ensure that security preparedness is delivered consistently across the UK, for better protection of the public.
Working closely with security partners, business and victims’ groups, including Figen Murray (Martyn’s mother), the Martyn’s Law Campaign Team, and Survivors Against Terror, the new duty will require venues to take steps to improve public safety. Measures will depend on the size of the venue and the activity taking place.
Although it is expected that the legislation to establish Martyn’s Law will be introduced in 2023, many organisations are already starting to implement their own security measures, including:
- consideration of risk assessments leading to a range of emergency plans and procedures being in place
- undertaking staff training and awareness raising
- employing security systems, processes and measures to mitigate threats
All such efforts are welcome and encouraged to create a culture of security.
How Martyn’s Law will affect you, or your business or organisation
Martyn’s Law will follow a tiered model linked to activity that takes place at a location and its capacity, aimed to prevent undue burden on businesses.
A standard tier will apply to locations with a maximum capacity of over 100 which can undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve preparedness. This will include:
- information sharing
- completion of a preparedness plan to embed practices (such as locking doors to delay attackers progress or knowledge on lifesaving treatments that can be administered by staff whilst awaiting emergency services)
An enhanced tier will focus on high-capacity locations in recognition of the potential consequences of a successful attack. Locations with a capacity of over 800 people at any time, will also need to undertake a risk assessment to inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan. Subsequent measures could include:
- developing a vigilance and security culture
- implementation of physical measures, like CCTV
- new systems and processes to enable better consideration of security
The government will establish an inspection and enforcement regime, promoting compliance and positive cultural change, and issuing credible and fair sanctions for serious breaches.
Dedicated statutory guidance and bespoke support will be provided by the government to ensure those in scope can effectively discharge their responsibilities. Even small venues will be able to benefit from this and take voluntary action. Expert advice, training and guidance is available on the online protective security hub, ProtectUK.
Martyn’s Law will extend to and apply across the whole of the United Kingdom. The government will publish draft legislation in the early spring to make sure the law stands the test of time.
For more information and the requirements for each tier, visit GOV.UK - Martyn’s Law factsheet.
How you can prepare
Consider what you and your colleagues can do to make it harder for a would-be terrorist to carry out a successful attack, by:
- being alert to suspicious behaviour and activity in and around your site, such as people loitering or displaying an unusual level of interest in asking questions, filming or photographing
- assessing the possible vulnerabilities of your site to various attack methods, and taking suitable measures to mitigate the risks
- being security-minded in your communications, particularly online
- encouraging and enabling a security culture at your event and in the workplace, ensuring that any concerns can easily be reported and will be acted upon
- considering how you and your staff would respond to an incident occurring inside, outside, or near to your building or site
ACT Awareness will provide nationally recognised corporate counter terrorism guidance to help people better understand, and mitigate against, current terrorist methodology.
The following eLearning modules are available:
- Introduction to terrorism
- Identifying security vulnerabilities
- How to identify and respond to suspicious behaviour
- How to Identify and Deal with a Suspicious Item
- What to do in the Event of a Bomb Threat
- How to Respond to a Firearms or Weapons attack
See, Check and Notify
See, Check and Notify (SCaN) aims to help businesses and organisations maximise safety and security using their existing resources. Your people are your biggest advantage in preventing and tackling a range of threats, including criminal activity, unlawful protest, and terrorism.
SCaN training empowers your staff to correctly identify suspicious activity and know what to do when they encounter it. The skills your staff learn will also help them to provide an enhanced customer experience. It helps ensure that individuals or groups seeking to cause your organisation harm are unable to get the information they need to plan their actions.
See - Be aware of what’s happening around you and trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Check - You can make a real difference through vigilance and good customer service. Friendly engagement and eye contact can help disrupt a hostile, while improving the customer experience. Do not underestimate the power of saying ‘Hello, can I help you?’. Your intervention may save lives.
Notify - Find out and learn your site’s security procedures. If you do not know how to report suspicious activity, ask your supervisor.
SCaN is free and has 6 modules, delivered by qualified trainers.
Sign up for SCaN
SCaN is not about spending more money on security measures or employing more security staff. It’s about making simple changes and using the resources you already have more effectively. The enhanced customer experience will benefit your organisation, and this training could be the difference between your organisation being a target or not.
For more information on SCaN, visit the National Protective Security Authority.
How to develop a counter terrorism security plan for your event
The challenge faced in countering terrorism is most effectively managed when planning, event management, incident response safety, security, and service are reviewed together.
Event organisers have an obligation under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to provide a safe place for their employees to work, and for the visitors to their attractions and events.
Consideration of the risk posed by terrorists must form part of the considerations under this act. It is essential, for corporate governance, to ensure that all threats have been considered, and appropriate measures implemented to manage the exposure to risk. It must be recognised and understood that assessing general event risk is different to assessing security risk. It is essential that the person carrying out this task is competent.
When developing a proportionate plan for an event, it is essential to understand the principles of protective security. The measures should cover the deterring, detecting, delaying, mitigating and responding to an attack. It is not always appropriate to consider all of these aspects, but an understanding of how these work together is essential.
Deter involves discouraging adversaries from conducting an attack by making each element appear too physically or technically difficult to achieve. An example of this could be highly visible security patrols around the outside of the event.
Detect involves being alert to potential attack behaviours at every stage, from planning and reconnaissance to deployment. The deployment of behavioural detection operatives or encouraging staff to be aware of hostile reconnaissance behaviour are examples of detection methods.
Delay involves implementing measures that increase the time it takes for attackers to get to the location of vulnerability once the attack starts. This could be ensuring that the right type of perimeter fencing is used to ensure it is harder to penetrate.
Mitigate involves the use of measures to minimise the impact of an attack. The use of a hostile vehicle mitigation system to prevent vehicular access and provide appropriate stand-off is an example of this.
Respond involves ensuring that measures are in place to respond to an incident. This is crucial in ensuring that harm is kept to a minimum. Appropriate training of response staff and a credible response plan are key to ensuring that any incident is dealt with professionally.
Protective security measures for places of worship
The government has announced that places of worship will receive £28 million in funding to help keep them and their attendees safe. The funding is available this year through 2 schemes, with applications now open.
The funding is part of the government’s commitment to ensure that faith communities in England and Wales are protected from the threat of hate crime and terror attacks, and can practise their faith freely and without fear.
The Home Office will provide funding for physical protective security (such as CCTV, intruder alarms and secure fencing) to be installed to help protect mosques, churches, temples, gurdwaras and other places of worship. Mosques will also be able to access a new security guarding scheme later in the year.
To apply for funding, applicants should submit evidence of their vulnerability and experience of hate crime. The application window is open until 15 August 2023, and the Home Office will notify successful sites from November 2023.
London Shield app
The London Shield app provides up-to-date information from the Counter Terrorism Protective Security Operations team at the Metropolitan Police Service.
Through the development of close partnerships between London-based businesses and the Met, the app can keep you informed and engaged with events, news and terrorism-related information from across the capital.
The London Shield app is available to download from: