Five years on from the Manchester Arena terror attack, legislation appears to be a step closer. Gareth Martin, Senior Solicitor at Markel Law, talks us through what it is and explains how businesses and the insurance sector can best prepare.
The proposed Protect Duty Bill, also known as ‘Martyn’s Law’, in memory of Martyn Hett who was one of the 22 murdered in the attack, was referenced in the Queen's Speech which sets out the Government's planned legislative programme.
Many owners and operators of publicly accessible venues will inevitably already undertake risk assessments in respect of the threat of a terrorist attack. However, there is no current legislative requirement for venues/organisations to employ or even consider such specific security measures at the majority of public places.
The draft bill was announced, following long delays to a public consultation partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The proposals which form the basis of this new bill have been championed by Martyn’s mother, Figen Murray, and would mean that venues have a legal duty to devise and provide specific security plans for a terror attack.
What to expect
Having considered the feedback from the consultation, which saw 70% of respondents acknowledging that there ought to be additional measures to protect the public from terror attacks, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, announced that legislation would be brought forward which will strike the right balance for public safety whilst not placing an excessive burden on small businesses.
It is widely agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible places “should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the public from attacks”. As such the bill is likely to include provisions which address:
- accountability, in that there should be clear roles and responsibilities amongst event organisers and those involved at a senior level within venues and the associated organisations
- the role of local authorities and the emergency services in bringing together partnerships
- an appropriate service to access relevant material, advice and training;
- a risk assessment template and appropriate information on undertaking the same, specifically in relation to terrorist threat;
- advice as to what constitutes reasonably practicable and appropriate mitigation for specific circumstances
- ensuring staff are trained to respond appropriately
- how the bill/duties will be implemented and enforced, as well as, what sanctions will be levelled against those who fail to comply
Whilst the specifics may still be unknown, the fact is businesses and their insurers, ought to have the risk of terrorism and the possible mitigation measures against the same in mind when deciding on how they operate. This will include considerations around workplace policies and procedures, as well as, levels of indemnity and policy wording amongst other things. The preparedness of both to deal with such situations will be key, just as it is with more general health and safety situations.
Brokers and underwriters, businesses and indeed the Government, need to find a position which strikes the right balance between protecting the public from such abhorrent attacks whilst also ensuring that it is not impossible to run a business due to the financial burden the duty places upon those involved in the sector.