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Freelance journalist

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Ron Alalouff is a journalist specialising in the fire and security markets, and a former editor of websites and magazines in the same fields.
May 25, 2023


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Martyn's Law

Martyn’s law – A big step towards better preparedness for terror attacks in public places

Draft legislation on improving security at premises where the public gather was considered at the first session of the Martyn’s Law conference, which ran alongside IFSEC on the 17th May 2023.

Opening the session, Figen Murray, the mother of Manchester Arena bombing victim Martyn Hett and one of the main forces behind the development of the Terrorism (Protection of Premises Bill) ­– otherwise known as Martyn’s Law – said the draft legislation will hopefully get people to think about things in a different way.

She explained why it’s so relevant because terrorists do not give warnings anymore – they want to cause mass casualties, make an impact and achieve notoriety.

“We need to be one step ahead of them – at the moment, they are one step ahead of us.”

Hear more from Figen Murray and the journey to Martyn’s Law in the IFSEC Insider podcast episode, below.

Nick Aldworth, former National Co-ordinator for Counter-Terrorism at Scotland Yard and another key figure in campaigning for the legislation, said we have invested in the most amazing security and intelligence services. But today’s terrorists are self-radicalised – often in their bedrooms – so we’ve got to stop radicalisation in its tracks.

What we haven’t yet done is to invest in preventative security, and this is where the draft legislation comes in, Aldworth noted.

He went on to set out the definitions of a “qualifying public premises” and “qualifying public event”. He pointed out, however, that events without a recognisable boundary – such as fairs and markets – are not currently included in the draft legislation, even though he estimated there have been around 100 deaths around the world due to attacks on such events.

Faith and education premises with a capacity of 800 people or more are exempted from the enhanced duty provisions of the draft legislation, unless people are charged for entrance at iconic religious premises, such as Westminster Abbey.

It was highlighted, however, that Martyn’s Law is not yet a ‘done deal’, as it is still required to go through parliament.

Persons responsible and designated senior officers

Under the draft legislation, the Person Responsible is the person or corporate body that has control of the premises. To ensure that this responsibility is not fudged in the case of a corporate body, the legislation provides for the appointment of an individual as Designated Senior Officer to carry out the duties.

For the standard tier of premises, relevant workers (those that are customer-facing) must be provided with terrorism protection training.


Figen Murray speaking at IFSEC 2023

The Bill doesn’t specify which training at present, but it’s likely to be Protect UK’s ACT Awareness e-learning programme.

The standard tier evaluation must demonstrate an understanding of the exposure and vulnerabilities of the premises, and a knowledge of how to react, said Aldworth. The enhanced tier adds training to prevent/counter the threat, a terrorism risk assessment to include the types of terrorism likely to occur, and the taking of all “reasonably practical” measures to reduce the risks of terrorism and harm to individuals.

Although in some cases people have applied their own interpretation of the likelihood of an event occurring, there is no likelihood component in the draft legislation. Only the national threat level should be considered.

“The great challenge of Martyn’s Law is for people to articulate why they are doing things and why they are not,” explained Aldworth.

“It’s mostly about process rather than bollards and gates. One good thing is that the security industry is now talking about improving the lot of security officers, the people who have to carry out these provisions.”

As for enforcement, the national regulator can impose tiered fines according to the size of the business, but the ethos of Martyn’s law will be supportive with the use of guidance and improvement notices.

The anticipated timeline for the Bill is:

  • July 2023: King’s Speech
  • October/November 2023: Bill introduced to Parliament
  • Q1, 2024: Royal assent
  • 2024: Enacted
  • 2025: Implementation

The General Election could, however, disrupt and even derail the legislation, taking things back to square one.

Keep up to date on all the latest regarding Martyn’s Law – the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – here.

Download the eBook, ‘Are you Protect Duty ready?’ here. 

Listen to the IFSEC Insider podcast!

Each month, the IFSEC Insider (formerly IFSEC Global) Security in Focus podcast brings you conversations with leading figures in the physical security industry. Covering everything from risk management principles and building a security culture, to the key trends ahead in tech and initiatives on diversity and inclusivity, the podcast keeps security professionals up to date with the latest hot topics in the sector.

Available online, and on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, tune in for an easy way to remain up to date on the issues affecting your role.


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