Preparing for the Protect Duty
Two significant reports have provided impetus and recommendations for the content of this legislation: The Manchester Arena Inquiry Volume 1: Security for the Arena and the Protect Duty consultation report. Here we provide a summary of the key findings from the first of these reports and also provide a response to the consultation from Figen Murray.
Report of the Public Inquiry into the attack on Manchester Arena: Security for the arena
In his preface, the chairman: The Hon Sir John Saunders, states: “On 22nd May 2017, twenty‐two innocent people were murdered in Manchester at the end of a concert performed by the American artist, Ariana Grande. In addition, hundreds were injured. Many suffered life‐changing physical harm, many others psychological trauma. There were acts of bravery by those who came to the assistance of the dying and the injured. Many of those rescuers bear the scars of what they experienced. None of those affected will forget that night and nor must we. Those events are the reason for this Inquiry and have remained central to it.”
The detailed report that follows contains nearly 200 pages divided into six parts. It documents the exacting inquiry into all aspects of the attack on the Manchester Arena. Part 8 provides conclusions and recommendations for the Protect Duty.
The report acknowledges the contribution of Figen Murray to the progress made on the new duty: “The progress is a testament to the efforts of Figen Murray, whose son Martyn died in the Attack. In his memory and in recognition of Figen Murray’s work, the proposed new legislation has become known as ‘Martyn’s Law’. Everyone who took part in the Inquiry has rightly paid tribute to her efforts.”
The Protect Duty
Legislation known as the Protect Duty or Martyn’s Law is due to be enacted later this year. This will bring an obligation for those with responsibility for publicly accessible locations to consider and, where required, implement security measures to protect the public.
The report introduces the idea of new primary legislation: “The proposal is that the Protect Duty will apply to every space to which the public has access so that wherever members of the public go within a public space, some person or organisation will have the responsibility to take steps to protect them against a terrorist attack”
“There are three different areas to which a Protect Duty may apply. First, public venues which are capable of accommodating an audience in excess of 100; second, large organisations employing more than 250 people; and third, public spaces. Each of these different categories will cover a wide variety of locations with very different levels of risk.”
The Protect Plan
The report outlines recommendations for how the Protect Duty should be carried out: “Central to the whole process of discharging the Protect Duty should be the preparation of a comprehensive risk assessment, the identification of the control measures and an explanation of how these will be implemented in what is known as a Protect Plan.”
There are a series of key recommendations around the preparation of this plan. In brief:
- It must include effective measures to mitigate the risk of a terrorist attack as well as noting they should be “reasonably practicable”.
- In some cases, “the police and other state agencies may wish to have an input into the plan before it is finalised”.
- Regular reviews are needed to ensure effective implementation and that changes in the terrorist threat are considered.
- Rigorous and robust enforcement “in terms of inspection, enforcement and penalty similar to health and safety legislation”.
The report notes that smaller venues may be able to prepare a plan “ from a generic list of options”. But larger and more complex venues “may retain a consultant or employ someone for that purpose”. The report recommends that the experts preparing the Protect Plan “require specialist training and a minimum standard of accreditation that will ensure that those undertaking this very important task are properly equipped to do it competently”.
Recommended approach to implementing the Protect Duty
The report highlighted the following key recommendations on the approach to take when implementing the Protect Duty:
- Guard against complacency: “Continuously remind those whose job includes being alert to the terrorist threat of the level of it and those responsible for security should be briefed at every event.”
- Regular reviews of risk assessments: Ensure the process to develop risk assessments and control measures identifies deficiencies in security arrangements such as CCTV; security perimeters; security patrolling.
- Report all suspicious behaviour by event‐goers or members of the public close to a venue. “It must be reported promptly so that investigations can be made and action taken, if appropriate.”
- Select appropriate staff for those roles with a counter‐terrorism element: “They must have the necessary maturity and confidence to speak up should the situation arise.”
- Adequate training in counter terrorism: “The provision of adequate training should form a key control measure within the Protect Plan. This will include consideration of the need for enhanced training for those in roles which require it.”
- Effective communication, coordination and cooperation between enforcement authorities with overlapping regimes in connection with the Protect Duty.
Editor City Security magazine