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Martyn’s Law and the Fight to Mitigate Future Terror Attacks in the UK

As a reaction to terrorist attacks in the UK over the last decade, the government has drafted a new bill that sets out requirements for all venues to adhere to. This new piece of draft legislation has been named after Martyn Hett, one of the 22 people killed in the 2017 Manchester arena terrorist attack. Homeland Security has recently released this draft legislation and explained how they plan to implement it.

The Security Minister Tom Tugendhat has said that the potential that Martyn’s Law has to protect the public is ‘significant’ and he ‘welcomes the committee’s scrutiny to ensure that this legislation is proportionate while enhancing our national security.’ Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, emphasised the importance of this bill when she said that ‘almost six years after the Manchester Arena attack it’s now critical this bill is passed into law as quickly as possible and in the strongest form possible.’

Martyn’s Law will place an emphasis and responsibility on parties who are accountable for locations and venues that hold ‘qualifying activities’, including entertainment, sports, and places of worship. As a result, the legislation will provide such parties with aid on how to prepare, act, and respond to attacks through enhanced security systems and training of staff members, and the capacity of premises will also be considered.

The bill will ultimately impose a duty on those owners and operators to increase their preparedness and overall safety in the event of a terrorist attack – with steps advised and taken proportionate to the size and activities of each given location. Its two tiers reflect this assessment: The standard tier is for venues of a maximum capacity of over 100, such as bars, restaurants, and retail areas. In this tier owners will have to undertake simple yet effective measures to improve security. The enhanced tier, on the other hand, applies to locations with a capacity of over 800 people such as music, sports, and department stores. These locations, due to the recognition of the ‘catastrophic consequences of a successful attack’ will be tasked with additional requirements.

Following extensive consultations and measures with businesses, the public and numerous campaign groups across the UK, Martyn’s Law will be enforced through an inspection. This will seek to advise, educate and ensure adhering to the requirements. Where necessary, a range of sanctions can be given to ensure there are no breaches. The legislation will apply to the whole of the UK, and will be introduced soon after it passes through parliament, due to the high-level importance of national security. Though there is no known date for Martyn’s Law enactment, this legislation marks an important step for the UK towards the safety and protection of the public in locations and during events. Further, it will act as a foundation for the nation to build upon in the future.


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