Understanding the implications of Martyn’s Law

5th June 2023

Reading time 5 minutes

As we await the pending UK-wide legislation of Martyn’s Law to be approved, key campaigner and Carlisle Support Services’ Director of Counter Terrorism and Risk, Nick Aldworth, provides invaluable insight into the implications of this upcoming legislation.

Formally known as Protect Duty, Martyn’s Law is being named in tribute to Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017.

Who will be affected?

The law is going to be applied to publicly accessible locations that undertake qualifying activities. The government defined such locations as “Any place which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission”. In other words, this will apply to places including but not limited to:

  • Entertainment
  • Events
  • Higher education
  • Hospitality
  • Racecourses
  • Retail centres
  • Sports grounds
  • Theme parks
  • Transport that is not already subject to other legislations (e.g., not airports or railways)
  • Visitor attractions

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Operational implications

When asked about the impact this will have on day-to-day operations for those affected, Nick Aldworth said:

“There is nothing in the new, proposed, Protect Duty that companies shouldn’t be doing already. Terrorism is just another risk but, like some health and safety risks, people wrongly think, this will never happen to them, but it does.

“The only reason that the law is being presented to parliament is simply because too many organisations exercise too much discretion in how they protect their customers. We can’t unknow what we have learned from the Manchester Arena Inquiry, and any company not following up on the learning from that, is probably holding a public liability.”

Key requirements

Aiming to enhance national security from terrorism without putting an undue burden on businesses, Martyn’s Law will follow a tiered model linked to the type of activity taking place and the size of the expected audience.

Standard Tier – 100 plus capacity

Such venues can undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve preparedness. This will include training, information sharing and 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.

Enhanced Tier – 800 plus capacity

Locations with a capacity of over 800 people at any time, will additionally be required to undertake a risk assessment to inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan. Subsequent measures could include life saving training, developing a vigilance and security culture, implementation of physical measures like CCTV or new systems and processes to enable better consideration of security.

Practical implementations

When asked about ways in which those affected could start preparing and taking appropriate action to comply with Martyn’s Law, Nick Aldworth and the wider team at Carlisle Support Services have emphasised five key elements:

1. Understanding terrorism

The Homeland Security Group and Counter-Terrorism Policing are exploring a standard workplace competency, suggesting relevant individuals should complete a terrorism risk management course equal to Ofqual Level 3. It’s worth noting that this is a relatively low entry point and depending on the complexity of need, this may not be sufficient. Carlisle Support Services can assist with providing the right level of qualified support. Subsequently, both threat and risk assessments should be reviewed regularly and conducted at least annually.

2. Staff training

Security personnel should undertake the training relevant to their licence (or comparable equivalent for non-SIA licence holders).  As many staff as possible should undertake the government’s 45-minute online ACT e-learning course. The more people understand terrorism and know what to look out for, the safer locations, and the public at large, will be. 

It’s of paramount importance that corporate leaders have assurance processes in place to check that training is being completed and staff are being supported with both time and resources. The Manchester Arena Inquiry identified that people hadn’t completed their training properly despite assumptions being made that they had. Subsequent to appropriate training, it’s important that staff knowledge is regularly refreshed and assessed for optimal security.

3. Leadership

Company leaders should ensure that security is a permanent feature on the senior management team / board’s agenda. In the same way operations, finance and health and safety tend to feature on board agendas these days, security should have parity of both interest and investment. Promoting a positive workplace culture regarding security, will reap dividends both commercially and with regards to maintaining compliance.

4. Investment

When an important piece of safety equipment is broken or not working, companies should aim to fix it as soon as possible. Creating a security infrastructure when places are being designed or built is the most cost-effective way of responding to security needs, but that’s not always possible. A programme of improvement and medium to long term investment is needed to ensure security keeps up with threats.

5. Planning

Being able to respond to emergencies is the difference between corporate success and failure. When terrorism occurs, it can be the difference between life and death. Therefore, all tiers of the Protect Duty will require locations to have a plan. Such plans need to outline immediate actions to protect staff and customers should a terrorist attack take place.  

Further Support

As a security provider to some of the largest venues across the UK, Carlisle Support Services can provide further guidance on Martyn’s Law and help businesses prepare in a cost effective manner.

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