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September 12, 2022

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Are you preparing for the Protect Duty?

Mike Bluestone, Executive Director, Corps Consult, provides an overview of what the proposed Protect Duty legislation is likely to cover, as well as advice for organisations on what they may need to consider in preparation.

Mike Bluestone, Executive Director, Corps Consult

As security professionals, we are challenged not only with constantly evolving sources of threats but also with the changing methodology of adversaries. The day-to-day sources of threats we face in the UK include both opportunist and organised crime, and we are witnessing a significant increase in the disruptive activities of single-issue protest groups. Anti-social behaviour is also continuing to blight us and the cost-of-living crisis, which may well lead to an increase in civil unrest, thereby spurring on organised extremist groups to take actions we haven’t seen on our streets since the 2011 riots in London.

Significantly however, terrorism remains a focal point for our attention, with the outcome of terrorist attacks, by their very nature, impacting on innocent civilians. Terrorism is fundamentally the unlawful use of violence and intimidation against civilians in the pursuit of political aims. Another key concern is the fallout from the war in Ukraine, alongside heightened tensions in the Middle East and Taiwan. It is important to be mindful of the link between global conflict and terrorism.

In May 2017, an Islamist extremist suicide bomber detonated a homemade Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as people were leaving the Manchester Arena following a concert by Ariana Grande. 23 people were killed (including the attacker), and 1,017 were injured, many of them children.

Following an in-depth public inquiry into the events of the horrific attack in Manchester the government has pledged to introduce new legislation, within a framework described as ‘Protect Duty’.

What is the Protect Duty?

The Protect Duty, a term synonymous with Martyn’s Law (named after one of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, Martyn Hett), will be a piece of legislation that seeks to embed in law the necessity for sites to demonstrate preparedness for terrorist attacks.

This will almost certainly require the completion of a detailed security risk assessment, and many of the countermeasures identified to protect against a terrorist attack which will provide additional security benefits to the site. The Chairman of the Inquiry in his summary specified the need to also assess threats, other than those that are terror related.

A public consultation on the proposed Protect Duty is complete and the proposed legislation is now expected to be presented either later this year or early 2023 (the change of Prime Minister and consequent cabinet ministers may delay this).

Whilst there remains some ambiguity over exactly what will be included in the Protect Duty, and who it will apply to, it will provide a big step forward in promoting security awareness within the workplace.

Martyn’s Law is a campaign started by the mother of Martyn Hett, Figen Murray. Watch the interview at IFSEC International 2022 to find out more, below.

Who will be affected by Protect Duty laws?

Whilst we do not yet know the extent and scope of the legislation, we understand that it will affect many organisations – some will already have security measures in place, while others may have very few or none at all.

Owners and operators of publicly accessible locations with over 100 patrons and/or 250 employees on site will be required to comply with five critical principles:

  1. To engage with freely available counter-terrorism advice and training
  2. To conduct vulnerability assessments of operating places and spaces
  3. To mitigate the risks created by these vulnerabilities
  4. To put in place counter-terrorism plans
  5. Local authorities to plan accordingly for the threat of terrorism

The key takeaway is the need for these five elements to be in place and managed by a responsible and qualified person in organisations with over 250 employees in one location. Typically, organisations of this size would be in urban city locations with security provisions in place – even through a facilities management contract. It will therefore fall to suitably qualified security advisors, such as those provided by Corps Consult, to prepare and plan with clients for the impending legislation and guidance.

For some business owners and operators, the implementation of mandatory security measures may at first glance appear unnecessary, but increased awareness campaigns will address any lack of understanding of the threats and drive them to seek professional organisations to impart the knowledge, training, and expertise to help them understand the issues, and prepare and manage their terrorism prevention and management programmes.

The new law will be strictly applied, and so businesses will be compelled to appoint a responsible person whose role should include keeping up to date with legal obligations.

How could the legislation be framed?

The report on the Protect Duty consultation and notes are available on the government website. Whilst nothing is yet set in stone, it provides enough insight to allow for preparation, budgetary considerations, and organisational adjustments that are likely to be needed in order to comply.

Many businesses will find themselves required to provide security provisions for the first time, and this is where security professionals can already start by assisting to plan and prepare ahead of the new legislation.

Theatres and other public leisure and entertainment facilities are some examples of venues likely to be covered in the incoming Protect Duty

What should security professionals be addressing now?

This period ahead of the introduction of the new legislation presents an ideal opportunity for corporate security professionals to take a step back and re-visit their organisation’s existing security measures from both a strategic and operational perspective.

As a practising Chartered Security Professional, I am privileged to be able to provide constant and effective support through a range of specialist security services to companies and organisations in both the public and private sectors. Now is the time for businesses and organisations to start assessing their security awareness programmes and staff training provisions.

The focus needs to be on those areas of security and resilience which require further investment and attention so as not to be caught unawares by any significant legislative changes, which may emerge from the Protect Duty.

In this regard, I wish to highlight a few points of interest in the government’s likely responses:

  • Security Risk and Threat Assessments: The legislation will require businesses to maintain live and engaged risk and threat assessments to manage all locations and events. An example would be a conference centre that would invite and host a range of businesses, speakers and organisations that could attract a terrorist threat.
  • Responsible Qualified Persons: There is no clear definition or insight at this time as to who the ‘responsible qualified person’ might be. However, within the framework, one can assume that this person will have the required training for the role and, therefore, likely to be an external supplier. If this is the case, it puts in focus the need for businesses and organisations to begin their preparations now.
  • Accredited Training and Qualifications: Since 2001, the UK security sector (primarily in terms of guarding; door supervision; and CCTV operation) has been regulated by law through the Private Security Industry Act, although licensing (which is overseen by the Security Industry Authority) has not yet encompassed professional security advisers, such as consultants. The advent of the Protect Duty legislation will however alter the landscape as it is likely to include reference to suitably qualified persons. We must await the actual legislation to know exactly what ‘suitably qualified’ means.
  • Finally, whatever the exact details of the Protect Duty legislation turn out to be, we can expect it to place a major emphasis on responsibility, accountability, and the implementation of proportionate measures.

In this regard no business or organisation, in whatever sector, can afford to ignore or avoid the implications.


EBOOK: Lessons from IFSEC 2023 – Big Tech, Martyn’s Law and Drone Threats

Read IFSEC Insider’s exclusive IFSEC eBook and explore the key takeaways from the 2023 show!

Navigate the impact of Big Tech on access control, gain insights from Omdia’s analysts on video surveillance trends, and explore sessions covering topics like futureproofing CCTV networks, addressing the rising drone threat, and the crucial role of user proficiency in security technology.

There's also an exclusive interview with Figen Murray, the driver behind Martyn's Law legislation.



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