Ministers have found that the proposed ‘Protect Duty’ (more commonly known as Martyn’s Law) is not fit for purpose and focusses too heavily on reacting to potential terror attacks, rather than looking at how to prevent attacks happening in the first place. Whilst this will come as a blow to campaigners, the Home Affairs Committee commended the efforts to reduce the impact and likelihood of an attack but warned that more work to the bill is required.
“The Home Affairs Committee particularly commends the efforts of Figen Murray in campaigning for change in how venues prepare and respond to terror incidents. We need to ensure the right initiatives are in place that can ultimately make the difference in saving lives.
“The overall intent of the bill is right. We must do all we can to ensure venues are equipped to react to terror threats. But the Government must ensure that the steps they need to take are based on an accurate assessment of risk and not arbitrary capacity figures.
“We are also concerned that this bill as currently drafted would fail to make a significant impact in preventing or mitigating the effects of terrorism. For example, in its current form a local village hall would be required to carry out safety precautions while a city centre open-air farmers market or Christmas market would not. This makes little sense and takes no account of the actual terrorist threat they face.
“Also the costs in money and time required under the Bill could place the very future of some smaller businesses and voluntary organisations at risk. With many venues already struggling with the cost of living, including energy bills, they are ill-equipped to absorb more financial pressure. In particular 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.”
Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Dame Diana Johnson MP
At the moment there are no further requirements under this legislation for venues or event organisers, however it may be that Licensed Premises or Safety Advisory Groups look more closely at these elements. There was also a stark warning from the committee that venues, organisations and event organisers to avoid paying for advice and training which is being offered – as there simply isn’t enough information available yet to warrant money to be spent in this area. It is now unclear when, or indeed if the legislation will see the light of day in its current form. Funding, lack of information about a regulator and concerns over training were all cited as reasons for the delay to the bill.
More information can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-66318605 and a link to the full report can be found at https://committees.parliament.uk/work/7670/prelegislative-scrutiny-of-the-terrorism-protection-of-premises-draft-bill/ or downloaded here – Protect Duty Select Committee Report