Are You Ready for The Protect Duty Legislation?

Posted: 5 Jan, 2022.

This year, we will see the UK Government introduce new Protect Duty legislation, designed to improve the protection of publicly accessible places from terrorist attacks. The legislation is intended to ensure that businesses and organisations are better prepared to deal with – and respond to – serious incidents.  

Also known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, the proposed legislation has come about following the campaign by Figen Murray, the mother of one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.

According to the latest government figures, the UK has foiled 27 terrorist plots since March 2017 which serves to highlight the necessity of this law, should the worst happen. It is expected to add another layer of protection, working alongside the day-to-day actions of the police and security services. 

What will the new law require & how might it be enforced? 

It is expected that there will be five key requirements;

  1. All spaces and places that the public have access to (i.e. parks, town centres, large venues, etc.) must engage with freely available counterterrorism advice and training
  2. Vulnerability assessments of their operating places and spaces must be carried out
  3. A mitigation plan for the risks created by the vulnerabilities has to be in place
  4. A counterterrorism plan must also be in place and communicated with all staff
  5. Local authorities must have a planned response to a terrorism threat

Although enforcement procedures have not been clarified yet, it is expected that measures will include regular diarised and on-the-spot inspections by a governing body as well as financial penalties for persistent non-compliance.

If a security breach is considered serious enough, venues could face prosecution under legislation such as the Corporate Homicide or Corporate Manslaughter Act.

Who needs to be ready for Protect Duty?

The latest public consultation (which ran from 26 Feb 2021 to 2 July 2021) considered three different sectors that Protect Duty should apply to; public venues for more than 100 people, large organisations that employ more than 250 people and all public spaces.

The new legislation will, therefore, affect all 333 local authorities in the UK as they are responsible for open public spaces such as parks, beaches, city and town centres as well as indoor venues such as town halls.  

It is also estimated that around 650,000 UK businesses could be affected by the new legislation, ranging from large venues such as the O2 Arena to smaller venues such as theatres and even large restaurants.

What can organisations do to get ahead and prepare for this now?

Most venues will likely have existing risk assessments in place and Protect Duty is expected to complement these by running in parallel, rather than imposing additional measures. 

Get a risk assessment

It is therefore likely that existing risk assessments will be taken a step further, with the creation of a ‘Protect Plan’ developed to identify what is reasonably practicable to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities during a terrorist attack. Like standard risk assessments, the Protect Plan will need to be regularly reviewed and updated in line with different threat levels as time goes on.

In order to guarantee a coordinated response and avoid confusion or lack of clarity where roles and responsibilities are concerned, clear guidelines need to be drawn up and communicated to all staff, with regular refresher training provided.  

Each organisation’s nominated health & safety team or professional will no doubt be up to speed on the latest developments in the industry, but it is worth paying close attention to the latest guidance for mass gatherings and physical security.

Incorporating technology into a new Protect Plan

Technology is advancing all the time and, as we find new ways of using it to our advantage, we also create new opportunities to keep people safe. It is therefore extremely important not to forget the significant role that technology has to play should a terrorist attack happen.

Critical event management

As a disaster unfolds, communicating quickly and effectively with those on the ground is absolutely key to cutting down response time and allowing a rapid exchange of accurate information. Our Peoplesafe Alert critical event management service is designed to deliver mass notifications in precisely this sort of situation. It is a crisis event communications solution that will cut through the noise of daily chatter to alert employees to potential risks and provide them with the information they need to safeguard themselves and those around them.

Messages are sent to devices within a specified location using geofencing technology and overriding any ‘do not disturb’ settings. The text within the alert cannot be edited or forwarded which safeguards the credibility of the instructions as the situation unfolds, giving the recipient peace of mind to do their job effectively and confidently.

It is simple to use, with an intuitive user interface which can sit on multiple devices and operating systems, sending and tracking mass safety messages to thousands of employees simultaneously with the capacity to send around 2,000 messages per second.

Body worn video

Another form of technology that provides a further layer of security is a body worn camera. Overt and obvious, body worn video technology often works as a deterrent to aggressive and violent behaviour. However, when we’re talking about meticulously planned acts of terror, body cameras serve a different purpose.

Attached to an individual, they provide an alternative perspective of events to CCTV cameras which might not be able to capture people’s faces, particularly if the venue has been previously scouted as you would expect it to have been. Additionally, body worn cameras are not fixed in a set location; this mobility means that footage can be captured from wherever the incident is taking place.

Be sure to choose a high-spec camera that can do more than just record events. Peoplesafe’s body worn video solution works alongside the Peoplesafe Pro App so that an SOS alert can be triggered enabling a two-way communication to the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) where a Controller can listen to events as they unfold and react accordingly. This means that those not at the scene can provide advice and instruction at a time when the wearer is likely to be under extreme stress.

The Alarm Receiving Centre operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is manned by highly trained, experienced staff who are experts at handling crisis situations of all kinds. It is certified against BS EN 50518:2019 Category 1 and BS 8484:2016. Not only is the ARC on hand to provide support to those on the ground during a crisis, they also have access to the highest level of police response, giving them direct access to police control rooms without the need for a 999 call. 

We’ve come a long way since the Manchester Arena attack and learnt many lessons.  Technological advances are key to enabling organisations to react faster and communicate better, saving precious time and lives as a result.

When it comes to public safety, exceeding requirements is a safer way to go, so we would urge organisations not to wait for the legislation to go live, but to get everything in place now. Making sure that everyone on the ground and running the show knows what to do should the worst happen is what ‘Martyn’s Law’ is all about.

Find out more

If you would like to discover more about how to communicate with employees during a crisis, no matter where on the globe they are (or you are), details of the Peoplesafe Alert app can be found on our product page, where you will also find answers to our most frequently asked questions and the details you need to get in touch with our team. 

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