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Terrorism: Contest Strategy - Question for Short Debate

– in the House of Lords at 7:40 pm on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour 7:40 pm, 3rd February 2020

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to improve the safety and security of public venues, and whether they intend to introduce a Protect duty under the CONTEST strategy for countering terrorism.

Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour

My Lords, I am pleased to have secured time for this important debate and I thank all noble Lords who have put their names down to speak. Terrorist attacks are particularly in our thoughts given the events in Streatham yesterday afternoon and the Statement we have just heard. All noble Lords will join me in sending our thoughts to those hurt and injured and our gratitude to our emergency services which responded so swiftly by going towards danger. I declare my interests in the register and remind your Lordships that in 2016, at the request of the then newly elected Mayor, I conducted a review of London’s preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident.

Last Thursday, I met an extraordinary women, Mrs Figen Murray. She would probably object to me calling her that, but the work she has done to promote the need for a Protect duty is by anyone’s standards extraordinary. Two and a half years ago her son, Martyn Hett, was murdered in the terrorist attack at Manchester Arena. A year afterwards, she went to a theatre in Manchester where no security checks were being performed. She said, “I had wrongly assumed that since the attack in May 2017, venues would have learned their lesson and would have put stringent security checks in place. I was devastated to see that this was not the case. It felt as if what happened in Manchester on that fateful night had been forgotten.”

The idea of Martyn’s law was born: the concept that every venue and public space should have in place basic security measures and a plan to deter a terrorist attack. There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach—each venue is different and faces different types of threat—but the principle of carrying out a basic assessment of the risk and taking sensible, proportionate security measures is simple. Concert halls, theatres and other venues must, by law, take fire precautions, as well as meeting other regulatory requirements. It seems extraordinary, therefore, that there is currently no requirement on them to take advice on reducing the risk of a terrorist attack and take sensible precautions. In some instances, a simple bag check may be enough. In others, handheld metal detectors or knife arches may be more appropriate. Similar rules should apply to sports stadiums, large shops and shopping malls.

I looked at this three years ago when Sadiq Khan asked me to report on London’s preparedness. One of my recommendations was that, as a condition of licensing, venues should have to be reviewed by a police counter- terrorism security adviser and take the necessary action as a result of that review. So far, I think, the Government have refused to agree to this. Similarly, most places of worship seem to operate on the basis that an attack will not happen to them, but they too need to plan and take sensible precautions, having been the subject of attacks in Europe and elsewhere. What would Martyn’s law involve? It would require all local authorities to plan specifically for a terrorist incident. It would say that all spaces and places to which the public have access must take up counterterrorist advice and training, conduct a vulnerability assessment and put in place appropriate and proportionate mitigation plans to address the risks identified. The aim should be for all venues to have their own Protect plans and in the event of an incident be geared up to guide and shelter those on their premises.

In the run-up to the general election, Ministers made sympathetic noises. Indeed, the Minister promised in this House on 22 October that the Government were giving the idea of Martyn’s law active consideration. The Conservative election manifesto said:

“In the wake of the terrible events in Manchester in 2017, we will improve the safety and security of public venues.”

Brandon Lewis, the Security Minister, was reported as saying as recently as 12 January, following a meeting with Figen Murray, that Boris Johnson was “100% behind” the proposed reforms.

We have been promised, and we heard it again today, new counterterrorism legislation within 100 days of the new Parliament sitting, but in the Home Secretary’s Written Statement of 21 January there is no mention of either a Protect duty or Martyn’s law. Nor does today’s Statement from the Justice Secretary contain any such recommendation or proposal. Indeed, it does not sound as though the Long Title of the Counter-Terrorism (Sentencing and Release Bill) which we hear will be brought forward would permit the introduction of a Protect duty.

So what is happening? I am sure that lie detectors, longer sentences, more specialist probation officers and additional money for CT policing have a part to play—actually I am less convinced about the lie detectors, but that is a matter for another debate—but the immediate practical impact of requiring every public venue to take advice, with excellent advice being available from NaCTSO, and then to implement appropriate and proportionate security measures seems to have been forgotten. Will the Minister tell us whether the CT Bill will include provision for a Protect duty when it is introduced? If not, why not? Earlier this afternoon, I introduced a Bill in your Lordships’ House that would require the Home Office to consult widely on how best to operate such a duty. If the Minister can tell me that that is already in hand—although I have heard no sign that it is—I will happily withdraw it.

None of these ideas is new. In my 2016 review, which was before the Manchester Arena bombing, I made a series of recommendations on strengthening the Protect strand of the Contest strategy: the Home Office should provide more funding for CT security advisers around the country; counterterrorism advice should be taken by those applying for venue or event licences; there should be discussions with the insurance industry so that businesses and venues are required to obtain and act on advice in return for lower premiums and making the take-up of training compulsory in certain circumstances; there should be short-form advice on CT matters for small businesses and microbusinesses, rolled out using local authority and neighbourhood policing networks; owners and operators of shopping centres should ensure that Project Griffin training is given at regular enough intervals to deal with the high staff turnover that those businesses experience; there should be similar Project Griffin training for places of worship; and the Department for Education should build on the model of having a designated governor responsible for safeguarding to ensure that each school appoints a governor responsible for ensuring security and preparedness against an attack.

Each school should have a preparedness plan and those plans should be tested. Schools have fire drills when they evacuate pupils, so should they not also have lock-down drills to “invacuate” the pupils? Could the Minister tell us what has happened in terms of the revised guidance to schools that she promised in this House in an Oral Question on 8 February 2018? Nowadays it is taken as a given that the places we visit abide by health and safety regulations and will have adequate fire precautions. It is surely not unreasonable to expect them also to take appropriate protection measures against terrorist violence. Why are the Government being so timid? If they are not being timid, perhaps they could tell us.

Of course, better security checks and a Protect duty will not prevent terrorism. We saw yesterday in Streatham that a terrorist attack can happen anywhere and at any time. The Protect duty will not prevent terrorism, but it makes soft targets harder. Where many people congregate together, they have a right to expect that the appropriate and proportionate measures to protect them will have been taken. The Government could make it happen, and if the Home Office was now prepared to legislate, that would be a fitting memorial to Martyn Hett and the others who died in the arena bombing. Or, as Figen Murray puts it, nothing will stop terrorism, but

“simple common sense security will make it much harder to inflict mass casualties and fewer people will have to suffer what I and the parents of the 21 other bereaved families of Manchester have had to endure.”

Photo of The Bishop of Southwark The Bishop of Southwark Bishop 7:50 pm, 3rd February 2020

My Lords, I too am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, for securing this debate and for making the points he made.

I live but a few minutes’ walk from the location of yesterday’s incident in Streatham, and my prayers go to those affected by yet another attack born of hate and callous disregard of God’s image reflected in the other. I too pay tribute to the rapid response of our emergency services, not least the police, who were tracking the individual, and to the ambulance service.

I had the privilege of playing a part in the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, who died in defence of this place, in April 2017. However, a few weeks later, a terrorist outrage erupted on London Bridge, and in the immediate vicinity of the same cathedral where that funeral had taken place. A nurse, Kirsty Boden, who tried to help the injured, paid for her compassion with her life, dying by the doors of our cathedral offices that dreadful night. Later that month, in the wake of this and the Manchester attack, which has already been mentioned, a national service of hope was held at Southwark Cathedral. An attack once more on London Bridge, last November, beginning at Fishmongers’ Hall, brought it all back. For some, of course, it is a daily remembrance.

A well-developed counterterrorist strategy, Contest, operates in this country, and we have some of the toughest anti-terrorist legislation in the world. Most of the effort in both focuses on the perpetrator. The noble Lord, in securing this debate, has put a proper onus on potential victims, for which we should be grateful. However, I wish to make a few brief cautionary points.

First, with our laws and strategy as comprehensive as they are, we need to pay heed to how they exhibit the values we seek to express. The duty on specified authorities under the 2015 Act to have due regard to the need to prevent terrorism was, for example, the basis for an eight year-old being interviewed by police without their parents present, as reported in the media in January last year. It does not follow, even after a dreadful incident, that something additional must be done. A great deal is already done under the four strands of Contest every day, including Prevent and Protect. Not every action can be anticipated or every thought countered. We can offer and work towards a more hopeful society and be as vigilant as it is reasonable to expect.

Secondly, on whom would the duty to have due regard to Protect fall, and how would this manifest itself? That would depend, in part, on definitions of both public space and what is a venue for this purpose. Do churches and cathedrals count for these purposes, and fall within the ambit of a duty to protect, and what additional measures and costs should they undertake? If the answer is yes, they may not be able to afford this broadly defined duty, and it may inhibit the nature of what they do in public worship and public service. I am grateful to the Government for maintaining the fund to protect religious buildings, but a significant number of churches are simply left open and unattended. My cathedral was shut down by the Metropolitan Police for one week following the London Bridge attacks in June 2017, as were the surrounding businesses in Borough Market. There is no insurance for loss of income unless you are the direct target of terrorism. The laws relating to counterterrorism seem broad already.

Photo of Lord Anderson of Ipswich Lord Anderson of Ipswich Crossbench 7:54 pm, 3rd February 2020

My Lords, having met a number of family members of those killed in the Manchester Arena, and having admired the remarkable strength and dedication of Figen Murray in her various interviews and public statements, I hope that I can begin to understand the devastation that terrorism causes to its victims and to those who are left behind.

After the terrorist attacks of 2017, I worked intensively with MI5 and counterterrorism policing to assess proposed improvements to their intelligence-handling models. This debate illuminates another important aspect of the picture: the Protect strand of the Contest strategy, as it relates to the physical security of venues and crowded places.

The distinguished judge Lord Goff wrote in Smith v Littlewoods of

“the general perception that we ought not to be held responsible in law for the deliberate wrongdoing of others”.

None the less, the organiser of an event may be liable under the existing law of negligence or contract should he fail to take reasonable steps to keep reasonably safe a customer for whom he has assumed responsibility. Further obligations relating to security may flow from the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974, or be imposed as conditions on venues requiring a licence or safety certificate. Is there a case for imposing on the owners and operators of venues additional statutory duties, more extensive than those I have outlined, to protect their customers from the risk of terrorist attack? I offer, if not a concluded answer, three slightly scattered thoughts.

First, as in so many areas, I counsel against legislation specifically directed at terrorism. Any review of the protective security to be required of events organisers needs to have regard to all threats posed by third parties. To that exercise, the motivation of the putative attacker is irrelevant. A racially motivated killing, a random shooting spree, a mentally ill arsonist or a gangland feud at an open-air concert may be just as potentially dangerous, and just as traumatic for the victims and their families, as a terrorist attack.

Secondly, we must retain a balance. While the promoters of Martyn’s law correctly emphasise advice, training and planning, a requirement for new infrastructure and equipment seems also to be an important part of their ambition to “mitigate any vulnerability”, if I may quote from the title of the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, this afternoon. In its document Martyn’s Law, the group Survivors Against Terror says:

“Things like metal detectors, CCTV cameras and security personnel are available within the reasonable cost of any business’s running cost.”

We are used to arches and metal detectors when entering the Home Office or the courts, but not, thankfully, the local cinema, town centre café or parish church. The Home Office estimates that more than 625,000 organisations operate at least one crowded place in the UK. Figen Murray is right to say that any plan must be relevant to the threat; it must also be proportionate to the threat. The strongest of reasons is required for new obligations that may impinge on stretched budgets, increase the cost of public liability insurance and frighten public-spirited persons from organising events.

In that connection, it is important to be clear-headed about the threat. Any death from terrorism is one too many but thankfully, and contrary to some predictions, terrorism over the past 20 years has killed fewer than 100 innocent people in Great Britain. Furthermore, notwithstanding the horrific slaughter of young people at the Manchester Arena and Fishmongers’ Hall more recently, the great majority of these deaths—from 7/7 to Woolwich, Borough Market and Finsbury Park—have been on public transport or the streets of London. Knowing the risks, we still prize the ability to run for a train or hop on a bus without submitting to any check or scrutiny. That is not the case everywhere in the world. It is an index of our freedom and a fitting response to the pathetic bigots who seek to change our way of life. We need to reflect long and hard before requiring checks at venues that are not required on public transport, particularly small and medium-sized venues where there is no specific threat.

My third and final point may seem off-topic at first, so please bear with me. It is addressed to those in this country and elsewhere who for sincere, but I think misguided, reasons would deprive the security services of the surveillance capabilities—subject as they are, and must be, to strong independent oversight—that derive from the targeted interrogation of data collected in bulk. I have noted in a number of reports the value of targeted data exploitation and other automated techniques, both for warning our security services of emerging threats from leads and from live and closed subjects of interest, and for enabling them to set tripwires that will notify a re-emerging threat. The use of such techniques identified the Manchester bomber in 2017 as one of the more than 20,000 former MI5 subjects of interest who posed the highest risk to the public. Tragically, the meeting that would have discussed his case had been fixed for 31 May, nine days after the attack.

The utility of the approach is clear. Faster and more sophisticated uses of artificial intelligence and behavioural analytics to extract information from bulk datasets are now being developed, as I reported in June 2019, sometimes in collaboration with the private sector. That might all seem a long way from Martyn’s law, but in reality it is the other side of the same coin. The better the information we have from covert surveillance, the more accurate will be our threat assessment and the easier it will be to resist calls to flood the streets with soldiers or routinely screen the users of transport, bars, venues and hotels. Whenever I spend time in countries like that, I am always glad to get home.

Complacency is not in order. I do not exclude the need to require scaled-up physical protection where there is insufficient inclination to provide it and where the threat, whether from terrorism or knife crime, is at its most severe. I look forward to reading the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and to hearing more about the measures that the Government will propose. But we have not yet forgotten, as the terrorists would like us to do, what a free country looks like and feels like, and I hope we never will.

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench 8:01 pm, 3rd February 2020

My Lords, it is an enormous pleasure and privilege to follow my noble friend Lord Anderson of Ipswich. He has given us a cogent and balanced picture of the issues that face us in this debate, and we are most grateful to him. I also thought that the debate was opened with great skill by the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey.

Knowing as I do the noble Baroness who will be answering this debate, and respecting her as I do, I have a suspicion that we will all emerge from this debate with a shared sense of purpose even if we do not have a precisely shared mechanical view of what should happen. Whatever happens as a result of this debate and of the Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, I am sure that we will be making progress in dealing with safety in public spaces.

The last part of my noble friend Lord Anderson’s speech was particularly important. It did of course relate to Martyn’s law and to the safety of public spaces. Indeed, if one looks at the controversy now about facial recognition, there are issues about where and how it should be used and the proportionality of it, but in certain spaces I would suggest that it is another of the tools that is legitimately used in the right places, for the right purposes, and subject to proper controls. Moreover, in itself it meets some of the aspirations of Martyn’s law.

It is very important that we should not have a siege mentality about terrorism. Some of the reasons for that have already been given, but my view is that if we enter into a siege mentality, then we give a victory to the terrorists which we would not wish to offer them. Also, many places of public resort are today increasingly conscious of their interests in taking proportionate protective measures. My noble friend Lord Anderson talked about the duty of care in negligence. Plainly, those operating in some public spaces know perfectly well because they have been advised about it by their lawyers or their trade associations that they have a duty of care to people coming into those premises by taking reasonable measures to protect their customers. It is right that in some cases that duty of care may extend to terrorism provision.

On Friday night, I went to the theatre to see Tom Stoppard’s incredible new play. In the entrance to the Wyndham’s Theatre, there was a bag search, which you expect now. Last week, I went to Central Hall for the Holocaust memorial service, the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the freedom of Auschwitz and the surviving prisoners there. Again, it took a few minutes, but there was a proportionate search there. That is what should occur in the right places. I am also of the view that this should be a reasonably elastic concept, and that if Martyn’s law is legislated for it should be sufficiently broad not to be too prescriptive.

I give one example of an experience I had when I was a much less distinguished Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, immediately before the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich. I went to Gatwick Airport and was given the training it gives to people who work in shops, cafés and so on in Gatwick Airport. I spent a day there; it was fascinating and rather entertaining. It completely changed the way I look around when I go through airports anywhere in the world today. There are good examples and some awful examples. The good examples are certainly mostly in the United Kingdom, because that kind of training—which I believe started with the City of London Police—has been offered throughout the country. I believe that sort of training should be made available not just in iconic public spaces such as airports, where there have been terrorist difficulties in the past, but in the high streets of this country. Not just the big department stores, which already use such training, but the high street in general should be conscious of its responsibility and of the opportunity that such training gives to make shops, theatres and cinemas safer places.

There may be some benefit in making some requirements of the kind that may well be envisaged in the Bill from the noble Lord, Lord Harris, which I have not yet seen, but we should be careful to ensure that we do not create unnecessary controversy. In the Prevent strand of counterterrorism policy, about which I know a little but not as much as some people give me credit for—

Noble Lords:

Oh!

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench

I am glad to see that one or two noble Lords here understand the joke behind that, for which I hope I will be forgiven.

Some of the issues that have arisen during Prevent have caused difficulty. The Prevent duty is not always as successful as we intended it, perhaps because the way it is defined is not as clear as we intended it. The notion of British values has caused a great deal of difficulty, because British values in Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, et cetera, in north Wales are different from British values in Dorking. We need to be conscious that British values vary around the country, so when we impose duties we need to be clear that we are imposing something universal, not offensive and more connected with proportionate rights and duties of citizens than with opinions of those of us who are part of the political class.

Photo of Lord Stunell Lord Stunell Liberal Democrat 8:08 pm, 3rd February 2020

My Lords, I start by associating myself with the remarks of other speakers in this debate and my noble friend Lord Beith on the earlier Statement. Our thoughts are very much with those injured and affected by the appalling act of violence in Streatham yesterday. That is a concern shared right around the House today. It is a tragic and unwelcome backdrop to the debate of the noble Lord, Lord Harris, and indeed to his Bill.

I live in Stockport, just nine miles from the Manchester Arena. On 22 May 2017, many young people from Stockport went to the Ariana Grande concert at the arena that ended in death and devastation. One of the 22 people killed was Martyn Hett, a larger-than-life character who lived in Stockport as well. His mother, Figen Murray, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has been tireless in pressing for the security at and surrounding major events and arenas to be improved. Like others who have spoken, I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say about the various slightly overlapping, and to some extent contradictory, comments from government Ministers over the past three or four months in response to that fairly simple and straightforward request.

The loss of Martyn’s life and the lives of the other 21 people killed in Manchester was a tragedy that has left families, friends and the local communities they come from grieving and devastated. However, we should not overlook in any way the trauma of the more than 100 people who were physically injured, and the many more who were traumatised by what they saw and experienced on that terrible night. As the subsequent inquiries have shown, the associated collapse of the Vodafone emergency phone system meant that, for the parents and relatives seeking news of people they knew to be present at the arena, the risk and fear were very deep indeed.

On the positive side, it led to a huge surge of public support and engagement by people young and old across Greater Manchester, pledging to back the city and defy the terrorists. That response has come from every community. I echo what the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark said. Across ethnic and religious divides, people are determined not to be held to ransom by the terrorists.

I speak in this debate with some hesitation. All the other speakers have first-hand and direct experience of, and in some cases senior responsibility for, matters absolutely at the core of the debate. I am not in that category, but I will pick up some of the points made. I look forward to hearing whether the Minister will tell the noble Lord, Lord Harris, that he can withdraw his Bill, and to her explaining why perhaps he should not for the moment. I suspect that is where we will be at the end of this evening’s discussion.

The right reverend Prelate urged us not to lose sight of our values. That is a really important point and I will come back to it in my concluding remarks. We can indeed make everything safe and secure, but we lose our freedom and civil rights if we do so. How do we get that balance right? It is of interest, to me at least, that the noble Lords, Lord Anderson and Lord Carlile, who have experience of looking at this very much from the inside, made a point about the Government not being excessive or making things too onerous in their or the public’s response to these things, and for us to be proportionate and careful what we wish for. I was really impressed by the figure that there are 625,000 organisations and venues in this country. As someone with limited responsibility for at least one of those, I can just imagine the Pandora’s box that opens if we get the shape of future reaction to these incidents wrong.

I hope the Minister will respond in full to the points raised, if not now then later in writing. I will add three points to that list. The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation submitted his report three months ago. It is important that we hear from the Minister that that report will be available to us to weigh up when we consider future terrorist legislation. If it is coming in the next 100 days—now, I think, the next 70 days—the sooner we get it the better. It would be a mistake to go back to the days of the Blair Government, when there was a Home Office security Bill every nine months. As I recall, whole chunks of one were often repealed by the next before they had even come into force. Surely we can aim to do better than that.

My second question concerns the independent review of Prevent, which this House prevailed on the Government to commission last year. I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, had to say; it will be very interesting to consider the progress of that. There are six months left of the statutory period set for the publication of that review. I am not aware of a reviewer even having been appointed yet. I may be ill informed on that, but can the Minister advise us of progress and when we can expect to see the review?

My third question is not directly terror-related but concerns the Gold Command system, which comes into effect when major incidents occur. Consequent on the Manchester Arena event, the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, prepared a report for the Mayor of Greater Manchester. It made some significant criticisms of the Greater Manchester fire and rescue service. The House of Lords briefing said that this had now been tackled in a root-and-branch way. That is good, but phase 1 of the Grenfell inquiry made essentially the same points about London’s fire and rescue service. Again, fundamental reviews are being carried out. In these two major incidents, then, the two largest authorities and fire and rescue services in the country both had two significant failures. How satisfied are the Government that every part of the country has robust senior command processes in place that have been stress-tested and are properly staffed?

It is a fundamental task of the Government to keep their citizens safe and secure from violence. It is also a fundamental task of Governments in democratic states to preserve and uphold the rights and freedoms of all their citizens. In a democracy, freedom and security must go hand in hand. As the Government’s intentions become clearer, on this legislation and on other events, it will be on these Benches that we try to ensure that freedom and security go hand in hand.

Photo of Lord Kennedy of Southwark Lord Kennedy of Southwark Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow Spokesperson (Housing) 8:17 pm, 3rd February 2020

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey for securing this debate, and for bringing such an important issue to this House for consideration.

Like other noble Lords, I pay tribute to the brave officers of the Metropolitan Police who had to deal with the terrorist incident yesterday evening in Streatham. They have our thanks, our praise and our gratitude for their work protecting London and the people of our capital city. I also send my thoughts, best wishes and support to the victims and their families. Luckily all the victims have survived. We are grateful to the other emergency services who attended the scene as well. I also thank the right reverend prelate the Bishop of Southwark and his colleagues in the diocese of Southwark, especially the rector of St Leonard’s Church, Anna Norman-Walker, for the support she gave to the emergency services and the community at the scene, and for opening the parish church for prayer.

My noble friend asks an important question and one which, as part of a strategy to defeat terrorism, we must keep under review and constantly check, to ensure that we have got things right and have got the relationship with our partners correct, as the terrorist threat changes and evolves over time.

Noble Lords will be aware that the UK’s counter- terrorism strategy is Contest, and that there are four Ps to the strategy. My noble friend asks whether the Government intend to introduce a Protect duty to improve safety and security under the strategy. It would be good if, early on in her remarks, the Minister could make a clear statement on that specific point, as it is the central question that needs answering as part of this debate.

Going about our daily lives, we often find ourselves in large crowds of people, especially if we live in the city or travel on various forms of public transport. Large sporting stadiums or concert venues provide specific challenges for the venue owners and managers, working with the police, the fire brigade, the local licensing authority, venue security staff and sometimes volunteer stewards.

We have already heard in this debate about Martyn’s law and the campaign by Figen Murray to have the law introduced following the death of her son Martyn Hett in the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. There have been supportive statements from the Prime Minister and from Brandon Lewis MP recently, but a clear, unequivocal statement from the Minister on what the Government plan to do in this respect would be appreciated by everyone in the House, I am sure. Those words from the Prime Minister are a shift from where we were a few months ago when there was resistance to this proposal.

The voluntary nature of the present arrangements does not make sense. We need proportionate, sensible consistency, an awareness of the threat and to look at best practice. Learning from each other, we must be aware of where we seek to go. Proper security checks at venues where members of the public will expect to have their bags searched and to pass through a metal detecting arch, which people are used to going through at airports, should become the norm and accepted practice. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, is right about proportionate measures. I was at the Globe theatre on Saturday night watching a play at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and there was a simple bag search when I arrived. When I go to the Oval, as I do many times over the summer, there is always a simple bag check when I arrive. It is sensible and there is no problem whatever for anyone attending matches there. Presently, however, things can vary from place to place, with some large venues having a very public presence while others seem less engaged. Comprehensive CCTV systems should be in place both inside and outside large venues, monitored at all times during the lead-up to the event itself and afterwards as crowds disperse. When you arrive or leave a venue, the area immediately outside can often be particularly vulnerable. Such areas are outside most if not all the security measures, so specific measures need to be put in place to mitigate risks there.

I very much welcomed the statement from Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, and from Councillor Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, whereby the authority is developing a scheme of best practice and looking at the existing range of licensing conditions to incorporate specific counterterrorism measures. They are often just simple common-sense measures, stepping back and looking at the threats and risks and what can be done to mitigate them.

My noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey conducted his review into London’s preparedness to respond to a major terrorist incident. Although the review was directed in large part towards the Prepare strand of the Contest strategy, some specific recommendations were particularly relevant to this debate; he outlined them in his contribution. They were relevant not only for sports stadiums and concert venues but other places where crowds of people can gather, including shopping centres, museums, galleries, cinemas, railway stations, the high street and other places we go to as part of our daily lives. But I fully accept that the measures must be proportionate.

Will the Minister please tell the House what support will be available to the police, local authorities, businesses and others—financial support and specific specialist advice—in addition to the points raised by my noble friend. We should look at things such as the installation of protective bollards in areas of high vulnerability both in London and outside the capital. Some places you visit have sensible security measures in place, with bollards and well-placed street furniture, but you can walk down the road and it can seem much less secure within 100 yards, despite important buildings being there. I have already mentioned CCTV and developing a network of live CCTV streaming not only of places in London where it might be of value but elsewhere in the country. Again, what financial resources and specialist advice will be provided to police, local authorities, businesses and others in this regard?

Does the Minister see a role for local authorities in making an assessment of the risks in their areas—taking special advice about the sort of places we have been talking about and working with local police forces—which can be fed back to the Home Office so that we get a proper assessment of where we are, the risk and what proportionate measures could be taken to mitigate that risk?

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark reminded us that we need to recognise that we cannot always detect everything. Sometimes we do a review and come to the conclusion that everything that can be done has already been done. I fully accept that point. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, made the point, which I accept, that there are other types of attack that are not terrorism but which can be equally devasting. When we plan security measures, they should cover all those things, not just one particular kind of attack.

In conclusion, I again thank my noble friend for introducing this most important debate and hope that in responding the Minister can, in addition to answering the points raised, set out clearly the Government’s thinking and timetable for action.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development) 8:25 pm, 3rd February 2020

My Lords, I thank everyone who has spoken in this debate, and I particularly thank the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for securing it, coming as it does today, the most unfortunate of days, following the attack in Streatham. I am sure all our thoughts are with the victims who were injured. I join other noble Lords in thanking the police, who ran towards a man who they thought might be wearing a suicide vest. Our police are the bravest in the world.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, I hope we can come out of this debate with a clear sense of purpose, and I will do my best to provide that clarity. I join the noble Lords, Lord Anderson, Lord Harris and Lord Kennedy, in praising the work of Figen Murray and her team. Her son Martyn Hett was one of the 22 people killed in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. I was here when the Westminster attack happened and, like the noble Lord, Lord Stunell, I could not believe my bad luck when I was in Manchester when that happened.

To answer head-on the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, who wanted absolute clarity up-front in my speech, I shall quote the Security Minister on his support for Martyn’s law. He said:

“The Prime Minister, Home Secretary and I are all 100% behind Figen and are working to improve security measures at public venues and spaces. We are working quickly to come up with a solution that will honour Martyn’s memory and all of those affected by terrorism. I am pleased that last week Manchester City Council announced new licensing rules,”— the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, referred to this—

“but we are committed to going further and making Martyn’s Law a reality for all public venues across the UK. I am committed to working with Figen and others to ensure that we are all safe at the public venues and spaces we enjoy.”

On that note, the first duty of the Government is to protect the public. Contest is the UK’s comprehensive counterterrorism strategy. It places importance on ensuring that the whole of government, police, local authorities, the private sector, communities and, indeed, individual citizens work in partnership, using all the tools we have available, to counter the threat from terrorism. I shall quote the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, here because he talked about proportion and balance. As he said, it is also important to protect our freedoms and that this is not all about terrorist attacks. We are talking about different types of threats, all of which affect people’s lives. To address the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, different interventions will be required for different threats, places and buildings.

The attacks of 2017, the attack at Fishmongers’ Hall and the horrors at Streatham yesterday were an absolute tragedy. The Government have carefully considered where more can be done to ensure that we effectively engage with and provide advice to all responsible parties. Today, of course, that seems all the more pressing.

Since 2017, counterterrorism policing has developed a programme of sectoral and regional engagement days to provide the latest advice and guidance to those responsible for crowded places. It has developed new and revised training and awareness products for staff at crowded places and, in conjunction with the Centre for the Protection of National InfrastructureCPNI—it has produced a range of new advice and guidance, including an extranet accessible by trusted stakeholders. The Action Counters Terrorism awareness course is a recently developed e-learning awareness training programme freely available to all online, and I encourage noble Lords to try it.

Engagement with crowded places stakeholders is undertaken by counterterrorism security advisers—CTSAs—who provide advice, targeted awareness-raising sessions and training courses to site owners, operators and staff, and, as noble Lords have mentioned, local authorities. Further efforts made with public authorities include establishing regular engagement with local authority chief executives and others in key strategic positions to plan and prepare for threats at the local level and share best practice. The CPNI has developed the security considerations assessment, which supports businesses in reducing their vulnerability to attack. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, working with CTSAs and the CPNI, has updated and revised the National Planning Policy Framework and guidance to emphasise the role the planning system plays in ensuring that appropriate security measures are in place to help mitigate terrorist threats.

The Government have also been working closely with industry to develop new and innovative screening technologies for use in crowded places, and we are working with Pool Reinsurance to develop a new information-sharing platform. The £9.6 million project is being funded by Pool Reinsurance and is a ground-breaking collaboration between business, industry and the public sector that will make the country safer by providing secure expert advice and training to businesses and public sector organisations to help them develop their counterterrorism approaches.

Some specific points were made about different aspects of this issue. The noble Lord, Lord Carlile, talked about LFR—live facial recognition—being a possible tool in our armoury. Of course, as he said, it is not a panacea, but for specific threats on specific occasions, it might be an additional tool. He and the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy, talked about how you now naturally expect a bag search when you go to the theatre, as I experienced last week.

The noble Lord, Lord Stunell, asked when the report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation will be published. The answer is that it will be published in due course. The Government will carefully consider the recommendations and we will update the House. However, that does not answer the noble Lord’s question about whether we will be able to see the report.

Photo of Lord Stunell Lord Stunell Liberal Democrat

I think that the point is that, if it contains relevant information, we should have it in preparation for the legislation that is due to be brought forward in 70 days.

Photo of Lord Anderson of Ipswich Lord Anderson of Ipswich Crossbench

If I have remembered the legislation correctly, it requires the report to be published on receipt. If it was received in October, why has it still not been published?

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

I am suitably chastised; I shall go back, ask that question and update both noble Lords in writing. On the independent review of Prevent, I take this opportunity to thank the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, who is very modest about his knowledge of Prevent. I understand that the next steps are being considered, but I take the point that there is an end date to this. The Government intend to look at options for taking this work forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Southwark, asked about places of worship. The Government, of course, funded security training for mosques during Ramadan in 2019. We have committed to a fifth year of the Places of Worship Protective Security Funding Scheme and we are developing security training for places of worship of all faiths. We will also open a funding consultation on what more can, and should, be done to protect faith communities.

The noble Lord, Lord Harris, asked about schools. Through the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, we introduced the Prevent statutory duty, which requires local authorities, schools, colleges, universities, health bodies, prisons and probation services, as part of their day-to-day work, to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. We keep the guidance issued to organisations on this duty under review to ensure that it is fit for purpose in this changing world.

Photo of Lord Harris of Haringey Lord Harris of Haringey Labour

I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, particularly as time is getting on, but that is about the Prevent duty. I was talking about Protect, and whether guidance could be given to schools so that one of their governors could take over that responsibility—just as they do over safeguarding—to ensure that appropriate measures are in place and teachers know what would happen were the school to come under attack, whether from a terrorist or somebody else, as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson pointed out.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department, Minister for Equalities (Department for International Development)

I thought the noble Lord had asked about a Protect duty but I sent a note to the Box and got an answer back about Prevent. Obviously, all schools have a duty of care to their children but I will have to get back to the noble Lord on the question of offering advice and guidance on protecting children. I did think that I might not have answered his question. He raised the issue of primary legislation in the form of a Protect duty. In the London Bridge report, Prevention of Future Deaths, the coroner notes that careful work would be required to ensure that any such statutory duty were effective.

I want to assure noble Lords that, as the Security Minister wrote earlier this month, this work has the full support of the Prime Minister and Home Secretary, and we are working quickly to come up with a solution that will honour the memory of those affected by terrorism as well as other threats. We continue to engage with interested parties as this work progresses and hope to make a further announcement in due course. On the question of whether I will support the Bill being introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Harris, I would like to see it before making any comment. I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this debate.

House adjourned at 8.38 pm.