Plans to make it a legal requirement for venues to protect against terror attacks take step forward

February 25, 2021

The launch of a much-delayed government counter-terrorism proposal is a "huge relief", according to families of terror attack victims.

The Protect Duty consultation, run by the Home Office, will look at the security and readiness of public venues and spaces in the event of terror attacks.

It was initially slated to begin last year but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today is a major stride towards making our country safer from terror attacks," says Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett was killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena attack.

"The bottom line is I don't want people to have to go through what victim's families, or the injured, have gone through."

Hett was killed along with 21 others in a suicide bomb attack at an Ariana Grande concert.

Since his death, his family have campaigned for venues to be better protected against terror attacks, in proposals called "Martyn's Law".

Ms Murray said: "To make Martyn's Law a reality is a huge relief. It really is important to me that Martyn's death hasn't just been for nothing.

"For me, personally, it'll give Martyn's death some sort of meaning."

Speaking to Sky News, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: "I think it is an important testament to the work of campaigners on this issue, in particular Martyn Hett's family.

"It's all about placing a duty upon those responsible for public arenas - spaces where many, many will gather - to build into their planning a potential terrorist threat and attack, so that the proper contingencies are made in order to deal with what we very much hope will be very rare and exceptional events."

The ongoing public inquiry into the Manchester Arena attack has highlighted that public venues and spaces are not legally obligated to implement counter-terrorism advice.

But Martyn's Law campaigners believe that venues and local authorities should have a legal duty to do so, in a similar manner to fire safety protocols.

Proposals range from counter-terrorism risk assessments, to evacuation plans, staff training and improved security infrastructure.

The consultation will examine how plans should be tailored to suit the different size, scale and nature of venues.

Nick Aldworth, the UK's former counter-terrorism national coordinator, told Sky News: "Martyn's Law won't prevent future attacks, but it will make sure that if they happen people will be better protected.

"It will give people the confidence to go about their normal lives and know that somebody has a responsibility to keep them safe and secure."

The Home Office is seeking views on who the Protect Duty should apply to, what it will require stakeholders to do and how compliance should work.

"The government has already taken significant steps to amend our powers and strengthen the tools for dealing with the developing terrorist threats we face," Home Secretary Priti Patel said.

"This is the next step, how we go further how we can build upon that how we can do much more to have greater protection in public places."

The consultation will start at the end of February and runs for 18 weeks.

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