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What is Martyn's Law?

Adam Thatcher

Mar 13, 2023

Adam Thatcher

Describing in the simplest manner, Martyn’s Law or ‘Protect Duty’, is a piece of British legislation that aims to provide public places with a new security approach.  The Manchester Arena bombing in 2019 had an independent public inquiry conducted found multiple security oversights that deemed the arena unsafe that evening.  The new law will be used proportionately due to the fact that not all sites or venues are the same therefore a blanket statement will not apply for the security measures.  Due to the enormity and diverse number of sites and venues that will fall into Martyn’s Law varies from anywhere from streetside markets all the way up to ‘soccer’ stadiums.

If the Law is passed there will be instant and important ramifications for public safety, businesses, security industry, and the economy in it’s entirety.  It is hard to fully gauge the impact, and overall deterrence effectiveness of its implementation.

Martyn’s Law proposes 5 key requirements:

1)    Spaces and places that the general public have access engage with freely available counterterrorism advice and/or training.

2)    Those places to conduct vulnerability assessments.

3)    Mitigation plans for the risks created by vulnerabilities.

4)    Places are required to have a counter-terrorism plan.

5)    A plan for the threat of terrorism by the local authorities.


Security Industry


The United Kingdom already maintains one of the most advanced and robust security industries in the World.  The vast experience and training this industry has is well prepared to support the proposals that any new legislation may pass.  One major suggestion would be to implement funding initiatives for larger places or venues to have security equipment providers rather than just give money to the individual places or spaces.  Obviously there will have to be a threat matrix on to what is a higher target and where resources should be allocated which should be addressed in any new legislation. 


Business and the economy


Martyn’s Law has been written to encompass all publicly accessible locations.  All locations and places will have different requirements when it comes to counter-terrorism.  The Manchester arena holding a concert for 40’000 fans will have different requirements than a nightclub or a busy café near a tourist landmark.  The proposed legislation does take into account the needs of the smaller venues by simply requiring them to have a mandated fire plan or implement having trained doorman.  Bigger venues are far more complex and will have to have some funding provided that can be in the form of extra pricing on event tickets. 


General Public


Martyn’s Law will greatly improve public security and make sure people recognize that terrorism is a threat that will not go away and can affect them in their day to day lives.  Currently  “Of the estimated 650’000 crowded places in the United Kingdom, only about 0.2% are prioritised to receive direct support from the state’s network of counter-terrorism experts”. (Martyn’s Law Final Report).  There is a general fear that major events will be turned into a fortress but in the grand scheme of things after the 9/11 attacks a lot of new security was implemented at airports and they still generally run smooth.  It may take a bit more time to enter venues but to prevent further attacks it might be the best course of action. 


Barriers to Implementation


Funding is always an issue when it comes to passing new legislation like this.  Will the ticket purchasers be on the hook for the extra security costs or will this be taken out of a government fund that is provided for venues or places that fall higher on the potential threat matrix and need resources allocated.  One issue that may be addressed is with current inflation and post covid-19 have left the majority of the population with less disposable income so many businesses may reject putting extra costs on the consumers as it may effect overall attendance numbers. 


Another key barrier is the lack of education of how businesses can implement these new strategies.  By adding extra fencing around an event can cause unforeseen problems such as having a unprotected line-up of people waiting to get through the new security measures.  It will be important to introduce new technologies and ideas to make the operation more streamlined and the events to be conducted safely and successfully.


Next Steps


The main part of Martyn’s Law for many of the UK’s 650’000 crowded spaces will be the implementation for free Counter-Terrorism Awareness programs that will help develop knowledge within the organisation.  This will not be a course designed for employees to deign their own counter-terrorism protocols or strategies.  General knowledge of what to do in case of an event and basic security steps that need to be taken if an incident occurs around the facility or down the street from where they operate.  Health and Safety personnel will generally be in charge of getting this knowledge and implementing it into their training strategies.






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