UK Government: ‘Protect Duty’ for ‘publicly accessible locations’ Consultation – Q2/21
The UK Government is in consultation with large venues, organisations, businesses and local and public authorities on proposals to impose a legal obligation on organisations to consider the safety and security of their staff and the public who use their ‘Publicly accessible locations’.
The Protect Duty consultation, published by the UK government on 26 February 2021, is seeking views on how legislation could be used to enhance the protection and safety of public spaces and other publicly accessible locations.
The proposed legislation comes in the wake of terrorist attacks across the UK, and is informed in part by the campaign to introduce ‘Martyn’s Law’ – named after 29 year-old Martyn Hett, who was tragically killed in the Manchester Arena bombing.
The consultation is open to the public, but is targeted at venues, organisations, businesses and local and public authorities who own or operate at publicly accessible locations. The potential scope of the Protect Duty is far-reaching and will require organisations to engage with issues around security and counter terrorism in new and meaningful ways.
‘Publicly accessible locations’ encompasses a range of locations, including, but not limited to: Public venues (e.g. entertainment and sports venues, shopping centres and tourist attractions); Large organisations (e.g. retail chains, sports centres and gyms); and Public spaces (e.g. parks, places of worship and pedestrianised areas).
The consultation considers: Who (and where) the legislation should apply to; What the Protect Duty requirements should be; and How compliance should work. Responses are invited until 2 July 2021.
What We Know So Far
The consultation proposes that any publicly accessible venue capable of holding gatherings of 100 persons or more should fall within the scope of the ‘Protect Duty’.
The persons responsible for the venue would be required to carry out risk assessments around threats and work to implement appropriate mitigation measures.
The consultation also proposes that the duty should apply to large organisations employing 250 people or more operating at publicly accessible locations.
This would include organisations with a number of outlets across a wide geographical area, where there is significant and regular public footfall and engagement and would bring high street retailers, supermarkets, chemists and petrol stations (among others) within the scope of the duty.
Another significant aspect of the proposed Protect Duty would be how to improve security in public spaces. Many of the recent attacks within the UK have occurred in public spaces, which are often open and lack clear boundaries.
The consultation will explore the complex issue of how responsibilities around security for public spaces could be established. To this end, responses from landowners and public authorities are strongly encouraged.
Requirements of the new Legislation
While there is no confirmation at this stage, it is suggested that one of the main requirements would be the duty to carry out risk assessments and mitigation measures that are proportionate to the specific circumstances of the venue/organisation and its environment, as well as the nature of the terrorist threat at any given time.
For smaller organisations, this may involve low-cost initiatives such as staff training on the nature of threats and attacks. For larger organisations, more significant and costly mitigation requirements would be expected.
The consultation proposes that venues and organisations record and retain risk assessments to evidence compliance with the Duty. Other supporting evidence may include completion certificates for staff training courses and evidence of physical security measures.
The consultation also envisages an inspection and enforcement regime, with a new offence for non-compliant organisations that persistently fail to take reasonable mitigation measures.
It is seemingly only a matter of time before organisations have to factor security and terror threats into their planning, many organisations will have little experience or ‘know-how’ when considering risks around terror attacks and threats, so it is advisable to start engaging with security and counter terrorism knowledge as part of any existing risk assessment/health and safety regime, as early as possible.
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“ It is seemingly only a matter of time before organisations have to factor security and terror threats into their planning, many organisations will have little experience or ‘know-how’ when considering risks around terror attacks and threats, so it is advisable to start engaging with security and counter terrorism knowledge as part of any existing risk assessment/health and safety regime, as early as possible. “
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