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Martyn’s Law: What is it? And what next?

On 22 May 2017, an Islamist extremist suicide bomber detonated a shrapnel-laden homemade bomb as people were leaving the Manchester Arena following a concert by Ariana Grande. Twenty-three people died, including the attacker, and 139 were wounded, more than half of them children. One of those killed was Martyn Hett, Figen Murray’s son. Since that fateful day, Figen has campaigned tirelessly to get legislation passed by the Government to have a series of safety protocols put in place for venues nationwide  – Martyn’s Law.

On 8 October, CTB365, the digital events arm of Counter Terror Business, hosted a webinar on Event Management Security, looking at the delayed return of spectators to stadia across the UK, whether the the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the publics’ confidence in attending events and is the industry prepared and supportive of Martyn’s Law.

The event began with Figen Murray and Nick Aldworth, former National Counter Terrorism Coordinator, CT Policing, setting the scene, explaining a bit more about Martyn’s Law and future legislation for the protection of public places. As anyone who has heard Figen speak will know, her is an emotive story, both in the sense of her experience of the attack and the subsequent struggle to see change embedded across the UK event venue sector. It was Figen Murray’s belief that, following the attack in May 2017, ‘venues would have learnt their lesson and would have put stringent security checks in place’. This was not the case, and whilst changes are happening, unified change still remains far away, especially given delays to legislation due to coronavirus.

Martyn’s Law puts a number of requirements on businesses, venues and events. The five requirements are: engaging with freely available counter terrorism advice and training; conducting vulnerability assessments of their operating places and spaces; mitigating the risk created by the vulnerabilities identified; developing and implementing a counter terrorism plan; and a requirement for local authorities to plan for the threat of terrorism. The requirements are not designed to come at a massive financial cost, but are designed to mitigate, to the best of everyone’s abilities, any further terrorism incidents in the UK and to prevent any further loss of life.

As Zac Kelly says in his Martyn’s Law report, the term ‘as far as is reasonably practicable’ is used over and over again in health and safety and security guidelines. Why should your business, venue or event security be any different? Each of the requirements detailed in Martyn’s Law are ‘reasonably practicable’ for any business, venue or event in the world!

Engage with freely available counter-terrorism advice
It is proposed under Martyn’s Law that a business, venue or event which is accessible by the public, should have in excess of 45 per cent of their staff Counter Terrorism Awareness trained and proposes that in fact it should become part of mandatory induction training for new starters. This doesn’t have to be a case of getting all your staff into a classroom and having a day of ‘death by PowerPoint’. There are a number of fantastically interactive E-Learning platforms already available such as the NaCTSO package.

It is also proposed that any business, venue or event should at all times have at least one on-duty manager who has completed an ‘ACT Operational’ and/or ‘ACT Strategic’ course. These courses are readily available from local police forces.

Vulnerability assessments
Vulnerability assessments are a crucial piece of work that should be carried out in order to look at measures that you need to implement in order to address the vulnerabilities identified. You wouldn’t think of opening your business without a Health and Safety Risk Assessment – so why should this be different for counter-terrorism? There are a number of online vulnerability assessments readily available and can be carried out with relative ease.

Vulnerability assessments should also be carried out by venues and events over the ‘last-mile’ or ‘zone x’ to mitigate any risks which are brought about due to increased crowds as a direct result of your venue or event. This is a common issue with sporting stadia and music festivals or concerts.

Martyn’s Law, however, not only puts the emphasis of this onto the venue or event but also onto the local authority. Meaning that Event Safety Advisory Groups and Community Safety Partnerships will need to take an increased interest in this during the planning and management of public places.

Mitigating the risks
It is believed that often, vulnerabilities can be mitigated at little to no cost. Which as a business, venue or event, is music to your ears I’m sure. Little to no cost mitigation can include a range of things and could be as simple as implementing a search policy at your business, venue or event.

Good security will with its very nature, often bring good counter terrorism security and mitigating policies, procedures and protocols.

A counter terrorism plan
Again, with this I reflect to other policies and procedures that you will already have in your business, venue or event. You will already have a ‘Business Continuity Plan’ or a ‘Fire Evacuation Plan’, so again, why should a ‘Counter-Terrorism Plan’ be any different?

The UK Government actively promote the ‘Run – Hide – Tell’ advice, and whilst this is a great piece of advice, it has been found that when people react in such a way when in crowded environments and mass gatherings, it increases the risk of serious injury through crush and stampede injury, but also increases the sense of panic and confusion. It is therefore the proposal of Martyn’s Law that businesses, venues and events should adopt advice that reflects responsibility towards densely crowded spaces and mass gatherings.

Proposed principles
The principles proposed by Martyn’s Law are ‘Guide – Shelter – Communicate’.

Guide – Direct people towards the most appropriate location. This could be invacuation as well as evacuation.

Shelter – Understand how your business, venue or event might be able to lock-down and shelter people within it for several hours.

Communicate – Have a means of communicating effectively and promptly with users of your business, venue or event and have staff capable of giving clear instructions to your patrons.

You must also have the means of integrating with any response or rescue operations by providing things like building plans, site plans or other documents which may be of relevance.

A requirement for local authorities
Local authorities have had an obligation to create a multi-agency Local Resilience Forum since the implementation of The Civil Contingencies Act in 2004. However, they have no obligation to consider Counter Terrorism planning in the Local Resilience Forum and have only recently been issued guidance on what Counter Terrorism planning should actually look like. Martyn’s Law proposes that the Local Resilience Forum be obligated to consider terrorism as a threat or risk and should develop and implement a local response and recovery plan to a range of threat methodologies.

Summary
In summary, what does this all mean? Well, I believe that it means that for too long businesses, venues and events in the United Kingdom have failed to recognise terrorism as the threat that it is.

And now, with such a piece of legislation as Martyn’s Law, that won’t be permitted and businesses, venues and events will have to evaluate the threat of terrorism to its full extent and implement better analysis, planning, training and security measures as well as better collaboration between local authorities and businesses, venues or events, to mitigate the threat of terrorism as far as is reasonably practicable.

A phrase that most people will be all too familiar with and is applicable to so many different scenarios, but perfectly describes what Martyn’s Law is trying to avoid.

Businesses, venues and events have too often failed to implement the minimum counter terrorism measures required to mitigate vulnerabilities identified during the risk analysis. It is now time for that
to change!

This article uses content from the Martyn’s Law report produced by Zac Kelly, managing director of Manchester-based security company UltraSec.

Zac is starting a Master’s (MSc) in Crowd Safety & Risk Analysis at Manchester Metropolitan University.

He is a member of the Security Institute.

More about Martyn's Law can be read here.

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