Martyn’s Law: Enhancing Safety and Security in Hospitality Venues 

In recent years, tragic events have highlighted the need for improved safety and security measures in public spaces. The Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, which claimed the lives of 22 innocent people and left hundreds injured, served as a wake-up call for the need to strengthen security practices. In response to this devastating incident the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill was drafted, and Martyn’s Law sets out the requirements for venues and other organisations across the UK to protect public safety.  In this blog, Rob Easton, Head of Environmental Health at Shield Safety, explores the background, current status, potential impact, likely requirements, enforcement, and timeline for the implementation of Martyn’s Law. 

Martyn’s Law is named after Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing. Martyn’s family, alongside other survivors and campaigners, pushed for improved security measures in public spaces to prevent such attacks in the future. The law aims to make it a legal requirement for venues to implement comprehensive security measures and emergency planning. 

As of now, Martyn’s Law has not been enacted as legislation but has gained significant support from various stakeholders, including politicians, campaigners, and industry experts. The legislation has undergone multiple stages of consultation and scrutiny in Parliament to ensure its effectiveness and feasibility. 

If implemented, it will have a significant impact on businesses operating public venues such as those in hospitality such as restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs, and the retail sector. The law will see a tiered approach to the requirements on-premises. The standard tier will apply to public premises with a maximum capacity of 100 or more people, whilst the enhanced tier applies to public premises and events with a maximum capacity of 800 or more people. Guidance and training materials will also be available to premises with a capacity of under 100, should they want additional support.

Standard-tier premises will be required to undertake basic, low-cost activities to improve their preparedness, including terrorism protection training and evaluating the best procedures to put in place in order to minimise impact.

Enhanced tier premises and events have further requirements in recognition of the potential consequences of a successful attack. This will include appointing a designated senior officer who must regularly review the security of the venue.

Guidance on how to comply with Martyn’s Law identifies a 6-stage plan.

  1. Communication – detail how people, including staff, the public, and volunteers will be communicated with in the event of an incident. The messages must be clear and updated as the situation evolves.
  2. Lockdown – if an attack is occurring outside of the premises, specify how the location locks down and the people inside are protected.
  3. Evacuate – if people need to be evacuated, plan how they will be moved to a place of safety. This is not the same as a fire evacuation plan, as people will need to disperse rather than muster.
  4. Engage with the emergency services – ensure there is a means to contact the emergency services, considering mobile phone coverage and safe areas from which a call could be made,
  5. First Aid and FireFighting Equipment – additional first and firefighting equipment may be needed to respond to a terrorist attack. Ensure the team is trained in the effective and safe use of the equipment.
  6. Work with neighbours – coordinate the response with neighbouring properties and, if applicable, the landlord. Maintain a contact list and consider shared radio networks to enable effective communication.

Like other risk assessments, the plan must be reviewed annually or at such time there is a significant change to the property, process, or understanding of the risk.  

So, when will it become a law? The timeline for Martyn’s Law becoming legislation is uncertain, as it depends on the parliamentary process. However, there is growing cross-party support for the legislation, and it is anticipated that it will eventually be passed into law. The exact timeframe will depend on further debates, potential amendments, and the prioritisation of legislative agendas. An area that is yet to be confirmed is what body will be responsible for the monitoring and enforcement of the legislation. The Security Industry Authority is the statutory organisation responsible for regulating the private industry in the UK but does not currently have the scale and inspecting capability needed to check all the venues covered by Martyn’s Law. The Health and Safety Executive has also been identified as a potential enforcer, but they do not possess specialist knowledge of security and do not inspect health and safety in the hospitality and retail sectors. This leaves Local Authorities as the next regulatory body, but they are only completing limited health and safety inspections, as resources are incredibly stretched. Either way, the enforcing body must have the resources and credibility to ensure compliance with the new and needed legislation.

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20/07/2023

Rob Easton

Blogs, Health & Safety

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