Protect Duty: Proposed legislation

The UK Government is considering new legislation designed to improve the safety of public spaces, including shopping centres, retail stores, high streets and large public venues.

The proposed legislation, called ‘Protect Duty’, aims to ensure that organisations are able to respond quickly in the event of a major incident. Also called “Martyn’s Law”, the legislation came about following a campaign by the mother of one of the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.

What could this mean for building owners and operators?

At MAPP we pride ourselves on our ability to prepare effectively for the future. We are regularly reviewing and interpreting the details of key pieces of legislation to ensure we are able to plan thoroughly and implement any new laws within the required timeframes.

We want to assure you that we will fully explore what ‘Protect Duty’ could mean for building owners and operators, should it come into law later this year as planned. We will be able to suggest sensible measures that we can undertake together – even in advance of any change in law.

Under the current proposals, operators of public venues, large organisations and those responsible for public spaces would be legally required to consider terrorist threats and how to implement appropriate and proportionate protective security. The legislation is not simply related to buildings and includes permanent spaces as well as temporary events – anywhere capacity exceeds 100 people.

The suggested list of affected organisations that own or operate publicly accessible locations can be found here.

Consultation Process

The legislation is currently in the public consultation phase and you can share your views on the proposal via this government survey.

If the legislation is passed, what do we need to be aware of?

We will follow this consultation closely. Based on previous experience, should ‘Protect Duty’ become law, we expect significant consequences for non-compliance, with individuals being held accountable.

Inspections are likely to be carried out by a governing body to ensure that owners and occupiers are fulfilling their new duties.

According to the government consultation document, it is important that providing protective security should:

Protect Duty

Many of the more costly or complex countermeasures will only be relevant for larger sites with high footfall. Where these are required, reasonable time will be allowed to plan, design and implement the measures, as well as train employees. Further government guidance will be provided for this.

Nonetheless, this is likely to result in an entire industry of security assessors and surveyors offering to help you comply with Protect Duty. Surveys may be offered to the owners or operators of public spaces, followed by the offer of expensive solutions to maintain compliance with the legislation.

It is important to be aware of this and to contact our Senior Facilities Management Team should you be offered this kind of assessment.

All risk assessments need to be undertaken by an approved MAPP assessor and will be tracked on Riskwise. We will be introducing a new inspection type as well as a new Security Compliance dashboard.

The costs of these assessments and any recommendations need to be discussed with your Surveyor and Client prior to implementation. These are not specifically mentioned in the government consultation paper as being service charge recoverable, but the current MAPP house view is that where they will be providing a benefit to the occupier, then the costs could go through a service charge. Where the benefit is purely to the client, these may not go through a service charge.

What can we do now?

With some exceptions, there is currently no legal requirement to consider or implement specific security measures at publicly accessible locations.

However, there are many reasonable and appropriate measures for you to consider that can be undertaken by MAPP in advance of any new legislation. These include:

  • Reviewing existing site security plans to respond to different threats, with emergency procedures fully understood and regularly exercised by all staff;
  • Ensuring supply partners and MAPP site employees continue undertaking the simple training and awareness courses that are freely available – we are currently looking at training material options such as the ACT E-Learning programme;
  • Our Facilities Managers and site teams using their monthly inspections to recommend low-cost security measures (such as door locks, roller shutters) for crime prevention and anti-social behaviour, which may also be used in response to other security threats.

Further advice and guidance is available on the NaCTSO website, from your local Counter Terrorism Security Advisor (CTSA) or by downloading the ACT App.