As the United Kingdom stands on the edge of a pivotal legislative moment with the Government’s Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as #MartynsLaw, it is imperative to understand the journey ahead. This bill, inspired by the tragic events at the Manchester Arena in 2017 and the tireless advocacy of Figen Murray OBE, is more than a piece of legislation; it’s a symbol of our nation’s resolve to combat terrorism.
Paul Jeffrey, Chairman of the Perimeter Security Suppliers Association (PSSA) commented, “This legislation is not just another item on the parliamentary agenda; it represents a fundamental shift in our nation’s approach to public safety and counter-terrorism.”
Jeffrey and PSSA members have been a vocal advocate for this critical piece of legislation. Jeffrey’s dedication saw him and Figen Murray, a central figure behind the bill, standing at the steps of 10 Downing Street, delivering letters of petition that encapsulated the collective plea of thousands. These letters weren’t just sheets of paper; they were the echoes of a nation still grappling with the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack, an event that tragically claimed the life of Murray’s son, Martyn Hett, and others.
Diane Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North and Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, emphasised the bill’s significance during a recent session in the Houses of Parliament. “I want to specifically refer to the government draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) bill also known as Martyn’s Law,” she stated. Johnson highlighted the bill’s roots in the Manchester tragedy and its potential to prevent similar atrocities. Her words serve as a poignant reminder of the bill’s origins and its deeper purpose – a commitment to ensuring that such a devastating loss of life never occurs again on British soil.
Figen Murray, whose tireless campaigning has been instrumental in bringing the issue to national attention, emphasised the urgency and necessity of this legislation. “This legislation is urgently needed and I hope it will not be watered down too much, putting people at risk,” Murray said. Her call to action resonates with a clear message: the law must be robust and uncompromising in its mission to protect the public.
The government’s intention to pass the new law was further signified in the King’s Speech 2023, marking a pivotal step towards realising this goal. But, the journey is far from over. The bill now faces the intricate process of parliamentary scrutiny, requiring approval from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. This process, while necessary for ensuring the bill’s thoroughness and effectiveness, is also a race against time.
The PSSA, under Jeffrey’s leadership, has been unyielding in its advocacy for understanding and mitigating risks associated with terrorism. The association highlights the importance of readiness at every level, from conducting risk assessments to training staff. These are measures that, while seemingly straightforward, can make a significant difference in preventing and responding to terror attacks.
Jeffrey’s upcoming meetings with a number of MPs are crucial in this context. These discussions are more than mere formalities; they are opportunities to influence the bill’s trajectory and ensure its alignment with the highest standards of national security.
The statistics are alarming: since 2014, vehicles have been used in over 140 attacks globally, with a majority occurring in places lacking adequate security measures. This data is a stark reminder of the evolving nature of terror threats and the need for proactive legislation like Martyn’s Law.
The road ahead for Martyn’s Law is challenging but necessary. Its passage will not only be a testament to the resilience and determination of campaigners like Murray and Jeffrey but also a significant stride in safeguarding our nation against the scourge of terrorism. The urgency is clear, and the call to action is loud: it is time for Parliament to move swiftly and decisively in enacting this vital legislation.
As the nation watches, the hope is that Martyn’s Law will not only honour the memory of those lost but will also mark a new era of heightened security and vigilance in the United Kingdom. The message from the PSSA, campaigners, and the public is unequivocal: the time for Martyn’s Law is now.