Government sets out plans to protect public places from terrorist attacks

The Government has set out proposals for a new legal requirement for public places to improve protection from terrorist attacks.

Feb 26, 2021
By Paul Jacques
Home Secretary Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she wants all organisations responsible for public venues and spaces “to put safety and security first”.

The Government’s Protect Duty published on Friday (February 26) draws on lessons learnt from previous terrorist incidents.

The proposals have been championed by victims’ groups, including the Martyn’s Law campaign, which was established by Figen Murray, whose son Martyn was one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.

She said it was a “major stride” towards making the country safer from terror attacks.

Ms Patel said: “I have heard first hand from those who have sadly lost loved ones in horrific terror attacks, and thank them for their tireless work to ensure others do not share their tragedy.

“This Government has already taken significant steps to amend our powers and strengthen the tools for dealing with the developing terrorist threats we face, and we will always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security.

“That is why we want all organisations responsible for public venues and spaces to put public safety and security first.”

A consultation on the proposed Protect Duty will run for 18 weeks and will seek the views on:

  • Who the Duty should apply to;
  • What it will require stakeholders to do;
  • How compliance should work; and
  • How the Government can support those in scope.

Ms Murray said: “Today is a major stride towards making our country safer from terror attacks. I want to thank the Government for taking this step.

“To make Martyn’s Law a reality is of huge relief and I look forward to making a lasting difference with all of those who have supported it.

A spokesperson on behalf of the Counter Terrorism Policing Business Independent Advisory Group and Counter Terrorism Business Information Exchange said they welcomed this consultation initiative.

“It is in the public interest for the Government and business to work together to ensure people are as protected as possible when visiting venues, retail areas and other publicly accessible spaces. This initiative gives us an opportunity to make sure that we are doing all we can to keep people safe,” they said.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Government, in order to provide the public with the best possible protection against those who wish us harm.”

While subject to consultation, the intention is that the Duty would apply to specified owners and operators of public venues, large organisations and those responsible for public spaces.

The Government said it would require those in scope to consider terrorist threats, and consider and implement appropriate and proportionate protective security and organisational preparedness measures.

The Government is also continuing to engage with a range of businesses and industries to encourage them to adopt best practice, as well as working alongside Counter Terrorism Police and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure to extend the reach of appropriate advice, guidance and training across all sectors.

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