Martyn's Law - A protect duty for public venues

20th April 2020

A law requiring entertainment venues to improve security against the threat of terrorism is being passed through parliament: article by the Co-Founder of Tess Group, Steve Laws. 

Known as Martyn's Law, named after Martyn Hett, who was killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack, will require that any entertainment venue and public places have a counter-terrorism plan.

There are many venues that already consider terrorist threats and venue vulnerabilities in their risk assessments and action plans. Martyn’s Law doesn’t advocate a one size fits all approach, it’s all about having a plan relevant to the threat.

Martyn's mother Figen Murray has championed this and has called for 'simple common sense security' that will 'make it much harder to inflict mass casualties'. She has spoken to security audiences and I have listened to her speak at International Security Expo 2019.

Here is Figen Murray speaking about Martyn's Law.

She is a humble and quiet speaker with a compelling quest that anyone involved in the safety and security of venues and public spaces must follow. She has worked tirelessly to make this come about and a fitting tribute to not just the memory of her son Martyn, but to all of the other victims of the Manchester terror attack. She is leading the way to bring in an improved culture of safety in this country, which the Government has listened to and is taking action on. I am sure that Martyn’s Law will be on the statute books soon.

This I feel is a 'key jigsaw piece' fitting into the wider strategic Counter Terrorism risk reduction (CONTEST 2018)

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/counter-terrorism-strategy-contest-2018

So what does this mean to event safety professionals? Well I expect and anticipate we will have a template that will now be enshrined in law, to work to and level the playing field between the excellent work I know is carried out now and those who still write their plans 'on the back of a fag packet' figuratively speaking!

Figen Murray has written how venues seemed not to have learnt the lesson of May 2017: 'It felt as if what happened in Manchester on that fateful night had been forgotten.' In truth visible security did not change – venues did not add airport-style x-ray scanners – because, thankfully, there was no need; suicide bomb attacks are thankfully exceptions. Venues, as after the Paris-Bataclan and Stade de France terror attacks of November 2015, such as football stadia and theatres, asked their security experts what needed to be done and the sensible ones reassured their sites that nothing extra or new, necessarily, was needed; because to add pat-downs, bag searches to a new threat that wasn’t necessarily there, was not only unnecessary, but made a rod for your back. If you suddenly added security because of an attack – no matter how upsetting and evil – either the extra security measures stayed, long after the original cause had passed, or were taken away quietly when the event memory had passed, which would beg the question why have the extra security in the first place. On what grounds would security be added or taken away? None, except the wish to be seen to do something.

As with any well constructed and comprehensive strategy to counter threat and mitigate risk, it is only words on paper without action to make it happen! Inevitably there will be additional resources, tactics, equipment and training of personnel now and for the future to comply with the new legislation.

Members of organisations such as Major Events International who have as members, suppliers of security equipment will offer viable, innovative and cost effective solutions.

https://www.majoreventsinternational.com/directory/

Companies such as Rapiscan are already supporting major events and exhibition venues, with people screening on entry and hostile vehicle mitigation barriers such as supplied by ATG, but as we saw with Manchester Arena, threat surveillance outside of venues and in open spaces is equally important. Training for CCTV operatives to identify hostile reconnaissance and threat incursion along with facial recognition cameras will I am sure become necessary and the norm.

So the challenges have been set and identified. It is up to us in the safety and security communities to take up and make happen.