Government proposes new duty to protect public spaces from terrorist attacks

Newly-appointed security minister James Brokenshire has announced Home Office plans to introduce a law which will require owners and operators of public spaces and venues to put in place measures designed to keep the public safe from a terrorist attack.

Delivering on the Conservative Government’s Manifesto commitment to improve the safety and security of public venues and spaces, the new ‘Protect Duty’ will reflect lessons learned following the terrorist attacks in 2017, as well as more recent attacks. The proposals also follow discussions with victims’ groups such as the Martyn’s Law campaign established by Figen Murray, whose son was killed in the Manchester Arena attack.

To be consulted on in the spring, the new law would require venue operators to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take proportionate and reasonable measures to prepare for and protect the public from such an attack. Those measures could include increased physical security, having training in place and formulating incident response plans and exercises for staff on what to do during an attack.

James Brokenshire

James Brokenshire

Brokenshire said: “Our first priority is keeping the public safe and preventing more families from suffering the heartbreak of losing a loved one. The devastating attacks in 2017, and more recently at London’s Fishmongers’ Hall and in Streatham, are stark reminders of the current threat we face. We’re in complete agreement with campaigners such as Figen Murray on the importance of venues and public spaces having effective and proportionate protective security and preparedness measures to keep people safe. Of course, it’s important that this new law is proportionate. This public consultation will ensure that we put in place a law which will help to protect the public, while not putting undue pressure on businesses.”

Collaborative working

Graham Williams, chairman of industry body Revo’s Safety and Security Committee, added: “As owners of retail spaces, we take our responsibility for ensuring the safety of our customers and retailers very seriously indeed. That being so, we welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Home Office on this initiative. We look forward to contributing to this consultation on behalf of our industry.”

Matt Maer, director of security and resilience for the Canary Wharf Group, explained: “This legislation has the potential to make a significant impact on public security, improving the situation for people as they go about their daily lives. Canary Wharf Group supports this initiative and looks forward to assisting where we can in shaping this work going forward.”

The public consultation will seek views from a broad range of organisations including business, public authorities, the security industry and campaign groups to ensure the proposals remain proportionate for publicly accessible spaces and venues across the country.

The consultation will ask for views from business and the public sector on the proportionality and scope of the duty as well as how it should be enforced.

The Government also continues to engage with a range of organisations from business and industry to encourage them to adopt Best Practice, as well as working alongside Counter-Terrorism Policing and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure to extend the reach of advice, guidance and training across all sectors.

Proscribing right-wing terror groups

Priti Patel

Priti Patel

In parallel, Home Secretary Priti Patel has laid orders in Parliament to make membership of two right-wing terrorist groups illegal in the UK. The orders will proscribe Sonnenkrieg Division (SKD) and will recognise the System Resistance Network as an alias of the already proscribed group National Action.

Proscription renders membership of a group illegal in the UK. Anyone found to be a member of or offering support to the groups could now face up to ten years behind bars.

Patel commented: “Recent attacks here and in Germany have highlighted the threat we continue to face from violent extremism. We are working to keep the public safe by increasing funding for Counter-Terror Policing and strengthening the law to keep terrorists locked up for longer. By proscribing these groups, we’re making it much harder for them to spread their hateful rhetoric.”

This decision follows a meeting of the Proscription Review Group, which brings together representatives from the police service and other partners to assess the risk posed by groups who may be considered for proscription.

As part of the order to proscribe SKD, the entry for Partiya Karkeren Kurdistani (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party or PKK) will be amended to include Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan (TAK) and Hêzên Parastina Gel (HPG) as aliases.

The PKK has long been considered to be involved in terrorism and these orders will prevent individuals circumventing efforts to counter its activity.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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