Crowded space

Martyn’s law; why some businesses should start to prepare 

25 April 2023    |    By: Nathan Bentley

On the 22nd May 2017, Manchester Arena was hit by a terrorist attack, resulting in the death of 22 individuals, including Martyn Hett. The attack shook the nation to its core, not only because of the scale of it, but because of the individuals it affected, not to mention the hundreds of other people impacted too.

Now, almost 6 years later, legislators are anticipating the introduction of Martyn’s law – set up by the Martyn’s Law Campaign Team and Survivors Against Terror in tribute to Martyn and those who died in Manchester in May 2017.

In a statement published by the Home Office in December 2022, Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn has said:

“Martyn’s law isn’t going to stop terrorism, but common-sense security, and making sure venues are doing all they can to keep people safe, could mean fewer suffer what myself and the families of Manchester have had to endure. I welcome the government’s commitment to including smaller venues and working quickly on this legislation. It is vital we now take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others wherever possible and I hope other countries learn from this ground breaking legislation.”

Following public consultation and working with various security experts, Martyn’s law concludes that businesses responsible for publicly accessible locations need to take measures to protect the public from potential  attacks. The law will follow a tiered model, which will take into consideration the type of activity carried out at a location as well as its capacity, so to make recommendations on what measures a business needs to take to make their space safe for the public.

Businesses with locations that have a maximum capacity of over 100 people will need to take low-cost but effective measures to improve their businesses readiness to respond to a terrorist attack. These measures may include staff training, information exchange and a preparedness plan which can be rolled out in the event of an attack.

An ’enhanced tier’ will be established which impacts business locations that have a capacity of over 800 individuals. These businesses will need to undertake further measures to ensure they meet the requirements of Martyn’s law, including the implementation of physical deterrents such as CCTV and the adoption of a new vigilance and security culture. The government plans to develop a new scheme to enforce these measures and ensure that businesses are doing what they can to ensure they are making their public spaces safer. The government have made it clear that the roll out of Martyn’s law will not cause any undue burden for businesses and that although some costs may be involved, the potential positive impact of this far outweighs the negatives.

At the time of writing, there is no definitive date for the enforcement of Martyn’s law, however UK wide, many councils have been informed that draft legislation is expected to be published in Spring 2023. This is likely to apply across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Whilst the official legislation is still being finalised, businesses can start to make changes to their operations now to ensure an easy transition once the law has been finalised. It is most likely that Martyn’s law will officially only impact businesses which have a publicly accessible space with a capacity over 100 people, however there’s no reason that smaller businesses shouldn’t pay attention to the legislation as they too could take steps to protect the public from a potential terrorist attack at their venue. Therefore, it’s a good idea for all business owners to get clued up on the legislation and to draw relevant advice from it as it could ultimately lead to lives being saved, and business property being protected.

Business owners, especially those with high-capacity venues should be considering the UK’s ever-changing terrorism threat landscape. Consider how an attack could impact your premises and what actions you can take now to make it less likely, or less impactful.

Up to date information on the UK’s current terrorism threat level can be found here.

It might be helpful to appoint a senior person within your business to oversee that the correct measures are being implemented according to the legislation. This will help to ensure compliance and can also make the task a little easier if it’s being managed in a central location. This individual might also be responsible for monitoring changes in the UK’s threat landscape, as well as reactive changes to the legislation too.

Bigger businesses may of course benefit from appointing several individuals or a team to this task.

It’s expected that a large portion of Martyn’s law will focus on ensuring staff members working in public locations are trained to help prevent an attack and to respond to it in a safe way. Keep an eye out for relevant training courses which might be able to help to both prevent an attack happening in the first place or bolster your team's response to an attack taking place – keeping them, and members of the public safe.

Above all, it’s important to remember that education and deterrence are the most effective ways to manage members of the public and whilst education may seem unnecessary to some, it’s always better for individuals to have the skills and not need to use them, rather than find themselves in a dangerous situation not knowing what to do to keep themselves and the public safe.

For general advice on staying safe from terrorism, the Metropolitan Police have established a number of resources to help individuals learn what to do if they are either suspicious of terrorism, or are involved in an attack. The ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ campaign has been rolled out to encourage individuals to seek a place of safety and to make attempts to call the police if they witness an attack or an incident. Find out more.

Up to date advice from the Metropolitan Police on protecting your business from terrorism can be found here.

Nathan Bentley
Article by
Nathan is a content writer at Premierline with over 5 years’ experience, specialising in news and current affairs which impact small businesses across various industries. Nathan is passionate about discussing topics that affect the workplace, covering everything from human resources, to emerging and disruptive technologies. In the past, Nathan has written for a number of different businesses, working within a wide range of industries from financial technology to hospitality and even men’s fashion.
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