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March 6, 2023


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Retail security

Martyn’s Law: Where do retailers stand and what can they do to prepare ahead of the legislation?

With the Protect Duty legislation expected for release in the coming months, Peoplesafe is urging retailers to begin preparing early.

New Protect Duty legislation will introduce a statutory duty for the owners and operators of publicly accessible locations (PALs) to take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the public from terrorist attacks. This wide-ranging piece of legislation is seen as one of the biggest to ever impact the security sector.

The government announced details for the Protect Duty legislation in reaction to the Manchester Arena terrorist attack and it has become known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, in tribute to Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in 2017.

The plans have been developed following public consultation and extensive engagement across industry, charities, local authorities, security experts and with survivors. 70% of the thousands who responded to the consultation agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect the public from potential attacks.

Martyn’s Law will apply to a wide variety of venues, including retail stores, shopping centres, hotels, casinos, stadiums and music venues, festivals, pubs and bars, hospitals, public squares, open spaces, markets, and transport hubs.

The new law will follow a tiered model linked to activity that takes place at a location and its capacity to prevent undue burden on businesses. The Government will establish an inspection and enforcement regime, promoting compliance and positive cultural change and issuing credible and fair sanctions for serious breaches.

With full legislation due in early spring, what will Martyn’s Law mean for retailers?

Central to Martyn’s Law will be a requirement for all retailers to undertake detailed, subjective risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and appropriate mitigation measures in the event of an attack.

These will need to be reviewed regularly as terrorist methodologies inevitably evolve and will likely require pre-planning and policy-making, staff detection and response training, CCTV monitoring, crisis communication and emergency lockdown procedures.

In short, it’s something the retail industry must plan for because it is coming and will have a big impact.

Body-wornCamera-dpapicturealliance-AlamyStock-22How else can retailers prepare?

Aside from policy and procedure planning, many retailers are already exploring some of the technology options that will provide extra protection to staff and customers. Body worn video looks set to be one of the key pieces of anti-terrorist tech in the new Protect Duty retail landscape.

Body worn cameras have been proven to reduce staff assaults by 47% but have an alternative purpose in this context. Unlike a fixed position camera, they cannot be taken out of the equation by location scouting ahead of an incident taking place.

Further reading: The rise of body worn cameras in security, retail and healthcare 

The main benefit here is that the user can alert emergency services, as well as record what is happening. In any threatening situation, the video begins recording as soon as the user feels unsafe, capturing evidence of any incident, as help is also dispatched.

An accompanying app also provides instant, two-way communication with a 24/7 Alarm Receiving Centre, where an Alarm Controller can listen to the phone audio and access the situation.

In the case of the Peoplesafe Pro App, we also have access to the user’s GPS location and the ability to bypass 999 to speak directly to police control rooms to initiate a level 1 response in the event of a terrorist attack.

Ensuring fast and secure communication in emergency situations

One of the core outcomes of the Volume 1 Report into the Manchester Arena attack was the poor communication between services and security teams. Clear, instant communication will therefore be a key aim of the new legislation.

Having one trusted communication method, with audited message tracking to ensure comms are read and responded to, is a vital part of any emergency plan. Some organisations still rely on unsuitable platforms, such as SMS, WhatsApp and email. These are inappropriate for disseminating urgent and sensitive information in the event of a crisis and pose several security and connectivity issues.

In a terrorist situation, where customers and retail staff may need to lockdown or be evacuated quickly, the Peoplesafe Alert platform provides a specific service for critical situations that can override silent settings and send repeat notifications until they’re responded to.

Targeted messages can also be sent to pre-defined groups or geofenced locations with a global reach. All of this would ensure compliance with new legislation targeted at these types of events.


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