Protect Duty Consultation: Be Ready

The rising threat of attacks at private-sector targets, including retail and leisure sites, has prompted the UK Government to consult on improving protective security and preparedness at public places.

people walking on crowded street back

The rising threat of attacks at private-sector targets, including retail and leisure sites, has prompted the UK Government to consult on improving protective security and preparedness at public places.

What is Protect Duty?

The Government has set out proposals for a new “Protect Duty”, regarding how legislation can make the public safer at publicly accessible locations. The proposals have been championed by victims’ groups — including the Martyn’s Law campaign, which was established by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett who sadly lost his life in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in May 2017 — and highlights the need to improve security standards in crowded public spaces and venues.

The consultation[1] is open to the public and is aimed at all those who own or operate publicly accessible locations that a Protect Duty would potentially affect, including:

  • Venues.
  • Organisations.
  • Businesses.
  • Local authorities.
  • Public authorities.
  • Individuals.

Hotels, pubs, clubs, retail stores, shopping centres, music venues, and high streets will all be in scope. The consultation will run for 18 weeks and will seek the views on:

  • Who the Duty should apply to.
  • What it will require stakeholders to do.
  • How compliance should work.
  • How the Government can support those in scope.

A publicly accessible location is defined as “any 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”.

How can I prepare for any changes?

Aside from the potential legislative requirements that arise from the Government consultation, there are a number of practical steps businesses can take to protect against increased security threats to customers, employees, and ultimately the business. Outlined below are some key actions we can support on, focused on minimising threats:

  • Use available information and guidance provided by the Government (including the police) to consider terrorist threats to the public and staff at locations you own or operate:
  • Conduct desktop proximity threat studies to assess the risk of indirect impacts due to neighbouring sites being targeted.
  • Conduct site specific Threat, Vulnerability and Risk Assessments (TVRA) for high-risk locations.
  • Assess the potential impact of these risks across all functions and estates, and through all systems and processes:
  • Complete Business Impact Assessments to analyse the impact of terrorist events and other disruptions across the organisation.
  • Conduct crowd flow modelling to quantify the numbers of fatalities and casualties resulting from an active assailant event using firearms or melee weapons.
  • Conduct blast modelling to quantify property damage associated with high-impact explosive events.
  • Consider and take forward “reasonably practicable” protective security and organisational preparedness measures (for example staff training and planning) for how to react in the event of an attack:
  • Complete Business Continuity Plans and Crisis Management Plans to prepare the business/organisation for a terrorist event and other disruptive events.

 

[1] Open consultation — Protect Duty https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/protect-duty, Home Office, 26 February 2021.

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