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LIVE urges government to revise ‘Martyn’s Law’

The UK trade body has raised concerns after the proposed anti-terror legislation for venues was included in the King's Speech

By James Hanley on 08 Nov 2023

King Charles

image © Mark Tantrum

UK trade body LIVE is calling on the government to revise anti-terror measures for venues after proposed legislation was included in the King’s Speech.

In his first address to both Houses of Parliament since becoming monarch, King Charles yesterday (7 November) outlined the laws government ministers intended to pass in the year ahead, including to “protect public premises from terrorism in light of the Manchester Arena attack”.

The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – also known as Protect Duty – has been dubbed ‘Martyn’s Law’ in tribute of Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the bombing following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017.

It will require venues to take steps to improve public safety, with measures dependent on the size of the venue and the activity taking place. Penalties for non-compliance would range from fines to permanent closure and criminal sanctions.

However, following pre-legislative scrutiny of the bill earlier this year, the Home Affairs Committee warned that it would “place a significant and disproportionate burden on smaller venues” in its current form, while “failing to ensure adequate safety measures at all public events at risk of terror attacks”.

LIVE, the voice of the UK’s live music and entertainment business, argues the draft legislation has been “rushed through the pre-legislative scrutiny stage and lacks any thorough impact assessment, which risks leaving the bill in a sub-optimal state. Not least in the treatment of grey space in public areas outside of venues and events”.

“The live music sector fully supports cooperative efforts to make venues as safe as possible for fans,” says LIVE CEO Jon Collins. “Venues and festivals throughout the country are already working extensively with relevant authorities and continuously review security arrangements.

“Government must urgently redesign the bill to ensure it is workable, places no disproportionate burdens on venues”

“We share the assessment of the Home Affairs Committee which identified serious concerns about the proportionality of the bill and a range of unfinished provisions. The committee’s report vindicated our members’ view that the draft bill is impractical, misses its core aim, and, through the excessive penalties it proposes, would create existential risk for live music venues.

“Government must urgently redesign the bill to ensure it is workable, places no disproportionate burdens on venues and crucially delivers greater reassurance and safety for concertgoers.

“We will continue to engage with government and parliamentarians to ensure the bill is appropriately revised and strengthened as it goes through parliament.”

Under the current plans, a standard tier will apply to locations with a maximum capacity of over 100. This will include training, information sharing and completion of a preparedness plan to embed practices, such as locking doors to delay attackers’ progress or knowledge on lifesaving treatments that can be administered by staff while awaiting emergency services.

Locations with a capacity of over 800 people will additionally be required to undertake a risk assessment to inform the development and implementation of a thorough security plan. Subsequent measures could include developing a vigilance and security culture, implementation of physical measures like CCTV or new systems and processes to enable better consideration of security.

The Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, published the final of three reports about the bombing earlier this year, concluding that security services missed a “significant” opportunity to take action that could have prevented the attack.

The second inquiry into the attack, published in November 2022, made a series of recommendations for events after identifying numerous failings by the emergency services, while the first report, published in June 2021, which found there were multiple “missed opportunities” to prevent or minimise the impact of the bombing.


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