In the spotlight today is the recent Home Affairs Select Committee’s scrutiny of the Draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as ‘Martyn’s Law’. There has been an increased focus on safety measures for venues, in light of the tragic 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist bombing in which Martyn Hett, son of campaigner Figen Murray, lost his life.
The proposed legislation, which would require venues and local authorities to implement preventative plans against terror attacks, has been under the committee’s examination since May 24.
The committee has voiced concerns about the Bill potentially placing smaller businesses and voluntary organisations under the risk of closure, without making significant difference to public safety.
According to the committee, the draft Bill may exert an undue burden on smaller venues while not ensuring sufficient safety measures across all public events at risk. They recommend introducing the law in stages, starting with larger venues, and reviewing the impact annually.
Figen Murray has been pivotal in the push for change and for this law. Commenting on the issue, Murray said, “Having lost my son to terrorism, along with so many others in the Manchester Arena attack, I find it hard to understand the argument that a few hours of training each year is a disproportionate step for businesses to take. Martyn’s law is a proportionate response that will keep millions of us safer, and the Government must now press ahead.”
Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Dame Diana Johnson MP, further highlighted that, “The costs in money and time required under the Bill could place the very future of some smaller businesses and voluntary organisations at risk…losing any vital community hubs such as a village hall would be a real blow and represent a win for terrorism, not an effective means of combatting it.”
Nick Aldworth, a former National Coordinator of Protect and Prepare Counter Terrorism policing who worked with Figen on Martyn’s Law, has criticised the committee’s conclusions, saying: “Recommending a single tier and phased implementation will only signpost terrorists to smaller locations and increase the risk to them. At a time when we are seeing terrorists shift their focus to these kinds of venues as soft targets, nowhere is without exposure to terrorism.”
Deborah Ainscough of Crowdguard, who advocates for appropriate and proportionate action to mitigate terror threats, states “It’s important that the draft bill is scrutinised to ensure that it is as robust as it needs to be, but flaws in the draft should not be a reason to delay legislation; they should be a catalyst for improving it! Understanding threat and vulnerability, and taking a proportionate approach to mitigating risk, aligned to operational and budget considerations, should be embedded in Martyn’s Law, and our industry needs to encourage people to take those steps now, rather than waiting for legislation.”
The Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) believes in the importance of enhancing safety measures at all public events to combat terrorism. The PSSA had the privilege to contribute evidence to the committee, which was duly considered in the report. We affirm our commitment to the common goal of ensuring safety and countering terrorism across all fronts.
To read the full report follow the link below: