While the number of terrorist incidents has dramatically decreased over the past 20 years, in recent years we have seen an increase in the amount of terrorist attacks that have taken place in crowded public spaces. Many attacks are now targeting unprotected public spaces to avoid security measures, whilst inflicting as much damage as possible.
As the threat is constantly evolving, and adapting to current security measures, the protect duty legislation is being introduced to help improve security measures against these sorts of attacks.
What does protect duty mean for venue owners, operators, and members of public attending events?
- Introduction To Protect Duty Legislation
- What Is The Protect Duty Legislation?
- The Manchester Terrorist Attack And Protect Duty
- Who Will Protect Duty Effect?
- Protect Duty For Owners And Organisations
- Protect Duty For Employers
- What Security Measures Are Affected By The Protect Duty Legislation?
- Final Thoughts
Introduction To Protect Duty Legislation
This year the UK government has pledged to introduce the protect duty legislation, a law requiring venue operators to consider the risk of terrorist attacks and to take measures proportionate to the risk to protect the public. This law is a response to the Manchester terrorist attack that took place in 2012, and other terror attacks that have taken place in public spaces.
What Is The Protect Duty Legislation?
Protect duty is a newly proposed legislation that will place more responsibility on the owners of publicly accessible locations for the security and protection from terrorist incidents. According to the government, a publicly accessible location is a place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission.
The protect duty legislation promotes the idea that there are more security measures and good practices which can be put into place that will significantly impact the publics protection against terror attacks, as well as the overall response. It will focus on providing the proper educational and training materials so that more measures can be put in place to promote more safety when it comes to terror attacks.
The Manchester Terrorist Attack And Protect Duty
On May 22nd, 2017, there was a terrorist attack at the Manchester arena during an Ariana Grande concert. 23 people were killed and over 1000 were injured. This is one of the main reasons why the protect duty law is currently being put in place, but the overall risk of a terrorist attack at a public place or event is a concern that it will help address.
The Mother of one of the victims of the Manchester Arena attack has campaigned for stronger, more comprehensive anti-terror security measures since the Manchester attack took place in 2017, which is why protect duty is more commonly referred to as ‘Martyn’s Law’.
Who Will Protect Duty Effect?
As terror attacks on public spaces increase, it’s important to recognize that any publicly accessible location could be a potential target in the future. While it will have an effect on anyone attending an event or in a public space, the protect duty law will focus on the following individuals and organisations:
- Event Organisers
- Public Space Owners
- Operators in public spaces
- Venue owners
Protect Duty For Owners And Organisations
It’s important for owners to recognise the potential terrorist threat that could happen in their spaces. As we see an increase in terrorist attacks on public spaces, it is important that venue owners are educated on the different aspects and threats of terrorism, such as:
- Attack Methods
- Potential Targets
- Changes over time
Taking these factors into account are going to make response and preventative measures much more effective. If for example there is a current trend of transport networks targeted during rush hour, the operators of that public space will be able increase security measures for the affected areas. This will allow responses to made in a more proactive manner.
There will also be a focus on what risks are specific to your venue or organisation. If for example certain types of attacks are more common than others, security measures will be able to be enforced around these specific types of risks. This allows different venues and organisations to have a more tailored response to their location and risk.
Protect Duty For Employers
It will be the duty of the employer to ensure that staff are adequately trained how to respond to a terrorist threat, as well as the different risks to look out for. Educational information and training material is to be made public by the government and police so that employers have access to learning resources where they are needed.
Employers will also have to keep their staff informed if there are any changed in the company response plan to a terrorist incident. These changes will consider risks, trends in attacks and changes to the environment staff are working in.
Think of this like a risk assessment, when anything changes that could affect your response plan, assess the changes, and see how they would impact your plan.
It is also the responsibility of the employer to make sure their staff, as well as themselves, know the correct emergency contact information should they come across something suspicious, or suspect an attack is about to take place.
What Security Measures Are Affected By Protect Duty?
Multiple facets of venues and organisations will be considered when the protect duty legislation is being applied. This includes:
- Risk assessments
- Evacuation procedures and routes
- Staff training
- Encouraging a culture of security
- Assessing vulnerabilities of your site
- Considering different types of attacks
- Improving communication routes
- Environmental factors (inside of building/outside)
- Awareness of suspicious behavior
Examining these measures in a more thorough and specific way, on a case-by-case basis, is going to help improve the security of public spaces overall. This will hopefully lead to a reduced amount of terrorist attacks being carried out in these spaces, and in the unfortunate event that an attack is successful, responses will be more efficient.
While some might be apprehensive about more legislation coming into place, it is ultimately there to protect everyone from the growing risk of a terrorist attack on crowded public places. The more communities and organisations that work together in being vigilant and prepared to respond to a terrorist threat, the safer we will all be.
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