Martyn’s Law: new counter-terrorism rules for UK venues from spring 2023

The government will introduce legislation next year, known as Martyn’s Law, to prevent terrorist attacks in public places such as major music venue.

The legislation is named after Martyn Hett, who was one of the 22 victims of the 2017 terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena. His mother, Figen Murray, has since campaigned for new measures to prevent similar attacks from happening again and went on to obtain a master’s degree in counter-terrorism.

Now, the government has confirmed that it will be a legal requirement for venues and local authorities to draft preventative plans against terror attacks. Draft legislation will be published in spring 2023.

The Home Office said: “The new duty will require venues to take steps to improve public safety, with measures dependent on the size of the venue and the activity taking place. Recent attacks demonstrate that terrorists may choose to target a broad range of locations.

“Martyn’s law will ensure that security preparedness is delivered consistently across the UK, ensuring better protection of the public.” [via The Guardian].

A public consultation into developing legislation to prevent terror attacks in public places was launched in February 2021. Industry, charities, local authorities, security experts and survivors of terrorist attacks were all consulted as well as the general public.

70 per cent of the respondents agreed that officials responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public from potential attacks.

Manchester Arena attack, vigil
A vigil in Manchester held in the wake of the 2017 terrorist attack CREDIT: Getty Images

Per ITV News, the legislation will follow a tiered model, with different levels of preparation needed depending on the size of a venue. Venues with a maximum capacity of between 100 and 800 people must undertake low-cost effective measures such as training, information sharing, and completion of a preparedness plan.

Meanwhile, venues with a maximum capacity of over 800 must undertake an additional risk assessment that will inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan.

The government will implement an inspection and enforcement regime, issuing sanctions for businesses that have made insufficient counter-terrorism preparations. They will also provide guidance and support to venues in making their plans.

Figen Murray said: “Martyn’s Law isn’t going to stop terrorism, but common-sense security and making sure venues are doing all they can to keep people safe could mean fewer suffer what myself and the families of Manchester have had to endure.

“I welcome the government’s commitment to including smaller venues and working quickly on this legislation. It is vital we now take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others wherever possible and I hope other countries learn from this groundbreaking legislation.”

The Manchester arena attack occurred in May 2017

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak gave Murray the news about the legislation on Thursday morning, on what would have been Hett’s 35th birthday. “I said to him it was the best birthday present I could have hoped for for Martyn,” said Murray.

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham backed calls for Martyn’s Law to be introduced as far back as 2019.

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