Today I am pleased to announce the publication of the draft Terrorism (protection of premises) Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law, for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee. The draft Bill (CP 840) has been laid before the House and is also available on GOV.UK.
The Government confirmed its intention to bring forward Martyn’s Law in December 2022. Since this announcement officials have been working at pace to finalise the proposals.
The plans have been developed following extensive engagement with security partners, business and victims’ groups, including Figen Murray and the Martyn’s Law Campaign Team. The Government would particularly like to thank Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett was killed in the Manchester Arena attack, for the significant contribution she has made through her tireless campaign to introduce the Bill.
The threat from terrorism is evolving and enduring. One of the most significant long-term trends, irrespective of ideology, is individuals (or small groups) who plan or carry out terrorist attacks without being part of an organised terrorist group. This type of terrorism is not new, but it is now the most prevalent, and presents unique challenges for our counter-terrorism response.
Attacks have tended to be ‘low-complexity’ involving ‘low-sophistication’ attack methodologies. For example, we have seen attacks which utilised knives and vehicles. Individuals may not have any relationship with or direction from established terrorist groups – but just because an attack is low-sophistication, it does not mean it is less deadly.
This trend is not exclusive, as such individuals are capable of higher-complexity attacks involving more sophisticated attack methodologies, such as the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. This trend, from radicalised self-initiated actors, makes identification and disruption difficult, and it becomes increasingly challenging to predict threat at specific locations.
This is why it is right that Martyn’s Law should seek to improve protective security and organisational preparedness at a wide range of public premises across the UK. Those responsible for certain public premises will be required to consider the threat from terrorism and implement reasonably practicable and proportionate mitigating measures. It will also establish an associated inspection and enforcement regime, which will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with the requirements of the Bill.
The requirements within the Bill will only apply to qualifying premises, in short qualifying premises have specific uses and a large capacity. Qualifying premises are split into two tiers, the ‘standard duty’ and the ‘enhanced duty’. Standard duty premises are those with a capacity of 100 to 799 people. Enhanced duty premises are those with a capacity of 800 people or more. The Bill allows for provision to be made for some qualifying premises to be treated as standard duty premises when they would otherwise be enhanced duty premises, and vice versa.
Standard duty requirements have been developed to ensure there is a baseline level of protection and preparedness throughout the UK. These requirements will help keep the public safe, while at the same time not unduly burdening business. The enhanced tier requirements are more extensive because those premises have a responsibility to keep larger numbers of people safe.
The regulator will apply a ‘reasonably practicable’ test to carefully consider what is reasonable to expect of a specific premise, there will not be a one size fits all approach. In all instances, the Government and the regulator will provide guidance and support to ensure we do everything possible to alleviate burden on business.
The requirements which apply to enhanced duty premises, will also apply to large events held at non-qualifying premises, known as qualifying events. These are public events with a capacity of 800 or over, which require express permission to enter (with or without payment).
We recognise that it would not be appropriate for all locations to consider and put in place security measures. Striking the right balance between protecting the public and proportionality has been at the heart of policy development and the Bill.
I am looking forward to working with the Home Affairs Select Committee to ensure the legislation is robust and delivers on its core aims ahead of a formal introduction into Parliament.