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UK Government releases draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill

The UK Government recently published the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny of proposed legislation.  The Bill is otherwise known as “Martyn’s Law,” and is named after Martyn Hett, who was murdered in the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena in June 2017.  It’s drafting has been informed by the inquiry conducted into the circumstances of this attack as well as the circumstances of other recent terrorist incidents.  The new law will impose legal requirements on certain establishments and events to ensure they have taken proportionate measures to safeguard against the possibility of a terrorist attack and also to better ensure that the response will be fit for purpose should such an attack take place with the primary objective being to reduce the risk of physical harm to people.

The proposed law will not apply to every business or event.  The draft Bill describes the type of establishments or “qualifying premises” that will be the subject of the new requirements.  Qualifying premises are separated into two tiers, with particular requirements applying to premises in each tier.  “Standard” duty premises are those with a “public capacity” of 100 to 799 whereas “enhanced” duty venues have a public capacity of 800 or over.  In calculating public capacity, it excludes people who attend the premises as a place of work.

Qualifying premises also need to undertake “qualifying activities” to be subject to the requirements of the Bill.  These activities are extensive and include use for the sale of food or drink (e.g., a bar), a nightclub, the provision of entertainment (e.g., a theatre or cinema), a sports ground, museums, hospitals, education and religious establishments and a number of other uses.  Importantly, the Bill specifically excludes premises used as a private dwelling and those which are used as an office or for “office purposes” and this seems to be irrespective of the size or capacity of the premises.

As far as events are concerned, the Bill describes “qualifying public events” as being subject to the law and to come within this category, the event must be accessible by the public by express permission only (whether on payment or otherwise) and the public capacity must be 800 or more people.

If your premises (whether standard or enhanced) or event falls within the qualifying criteria as set out above, the Bill will impose certain duties to be undertaken and creates specific requirements for individuals fulfilling particular roles.  Full details of these can be found within the draft Bill and associated Explanatory Notes but we have included a brief summary of some of these below.

The Bill identifies the role of a “responsible person” who is “in control” of the premises or event.  This function will be responsible for considering the terrorist risk to either the premises or event and ensuring certain activity is undertaken in response.  The requirements will be proportionately greater for enhanced premises but in both categories, there will be a need to document the action taken and review this at least every 12 months or if “material” changes are made to the premises.  Guidance will be developed and provided on what to include and how it should be recorded but will encompass the need to ensure measures are in place to respond promptly and effectively to an attack such as locking down the premises or evacuating.

The Bill also outlines a new requirement for the responsible person to ensure that for qualifying premises and events training in “terrorism protection” must be provided to “relevant workers,” and also when this should be provided.  The Bill describes a “relevant worker,” as someone who works at or is hired at/for a premises or event and has responsibilities that “make it appropriate for them to receive training.” This would appear to be wider than just security staff (e.g., any front of house or public facing role).  Staff should be trained before or as soon as they are appointed, and they will need 12-month refresher training.

The Bill also outlines a range of other related governance and compliance arrangements.  There will be legal requirement to formally cooperate with other responsible persons in control of premises where appropriate to ensure better coordination of activity and response.  There will be a public regulator with investigatory powers and qualifying premises will need to be registered and qualifying events formally notified.  The Bill also sets out enforcement provisions and potential penalties for non-compliance.

The draft Bill is now set for parliamentary scrutiny and the timetable for this means that the law is unlikely to be introduced potentially for 18 months or more.  It is also likely that following enactment there will be a period of grace to allow affected premises and events to adapt and respond to the new requirements.  Whilst this means there will be no immediate change of approach, BakerStreetQ will work to ensure its members are properly supported to prepare for the new legislation.  We will tailor the training we provide to focus on the likely implications and ensure businesses have access to appropriate advice and guidance.  It is also important to emphasise that although premises under the capacity threshold of 100 as well as offices of any size fall out of scope, the intention of the legislation is for all establishments to embrace the principles of the Bill and Martyn’s Law will inform the approach we adopt in the counter-terrorism and security training we provide to all of our members.

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