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Anti-terror legislation for UK venues moves closer

UK venues would have a legal duty to protect the public from terrorist attacks under new legislation being considered by the government following the Manchester Arena bombing.

The government has today (10 January) published a summary of responses to the Protect Duty public consultation.

Protect Duty, which would standardise more stringent, airport-style security checks at major entertainment and sporting venues, has been championed by victims’ groups, including the Martyn’s Law campaign established by Figen Murray following the loss of her son in the May 2017 attack in Manchester, which killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert.

“Following the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena, we have worked closely with Figen Murray, victims’ groups and partners to develop proposals to improve protective security around the country,” says home secretary Priti Patel. “I am grateful for their tireless commitment to the duty and those who responded to the consultation; the majority of whom agreed tougher measures are needed to protect the public from harm.

“We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year, that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”

A total of 2,755 responses were received from organisations, sectors and campaigners during the consultation period, which ran from 26 February to 2 July 2021. The majority supported plans to introduce stronger measures – including a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for, and protection from, terrorist attacks.

Taking measures to ensure that there is an appropriate and consistent approach to protective security and preparedness at public places is a reasonable ask

In the ministerial foreword to the government response document, security and borders minister Damian Hinds MP reasserts his commitment to advancing the legislation.

“Terrorist attacks can potentially occur anywhere, in large or small venues, at a range of locations,” he says. “It is vital that the government continues to consider how and where improvements can be made to combat the threat of terrorism and further enhance public security.

“The Protect Duty would be one means by which we seek to further enhance public security, sitting alongside our existing and ongoing work programmes to achieve this aim. I have noted the strength of views expressed in response to several consultation questions, that it is right that those responsible for public places should take measures to protect the public and to prepare their staff to respond appropriately. In short, taking measures to ensure that there is an appropriate and consistent approach to protective security and preparedness at public places is a reasonable ask.”

He concludes: “I recently met Figen Murray… and other representatives of the Survivors Against Terror Campaign Team, who have campaigned for ‘Martyn’s Law’, to ensure a specific legislative requirement be developed.

“I have also engaged with the Counter Terrorism Advisory Network, a national stakeholder forum, whose membership includes survivors of terrorism. Listening to and reflecting on the experience of survivors has reaffirmed my commitment to take forward Protect Duty legislation.”

The government is now set to process its response to the consultation and progress the legislation, with further announcements due from the Home Office over the coming months.

Last June, the Manchester Arena Inquiry, led by chairman Sir John Saunders, published the first of three reports about the terror attack.

 


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First £10k penalties issued for illegal parties

The first fines have been issued in England under tough new measures designed to deter would-be organisers of illegal raves.

The British home secretary, Priti Patel, announced last week that anyone who organises an illegal rave, unlicensed music event or any other “unlawful” gathering of more than 30 people could be liable for a fine of £10,000.

In London, the Metropolitan Police says it broke up 21 unlicensed music events (‘UMEs’) on Saturday 29 August alone.

One raid, in Dace Road, Hackney, saw officers take “details of four individuals, who have been reported for consideration under the new legislation”, says the Met’s Commander Bas Javid. “Enquiries into this event are ongoing.”

A number of arrests were also made at an anti-lockdown protest in central London, with protester Piers Corbyn – brother of former Labour party leader Jeremy – notably hit with the maximum penalty of £10,000.

A total of 11 £10,000 fines were handed out last weekend

“One individual has been reported under the new legislation, and a fixed penalty notice [will] be issued for £10,000 for the offence of holding a gathering of more than 30 people in an outdoor public place,” adds Javid.

According to Sky News, a total of 11 £10,000 fines were handed out last weekend.

They include penalties issued to the organisers of an illegal rave in Banwen, south Wales, which was attended by 3,000 people, and a number of parties in West Yorkshire.

Another (licensed) music event in Leeds was shut down for not adhering to government guidelines on social distancing.

Also hosting UMEs over the weekend were Norfolk’s Thetford Forest, when an unlawful rave was attended by over 500 people, and Harlow, Essex, where authorities seized “thousands of pounds” worth of sound equipment just prior to the event’s start.

 


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UK braces for long weekend of illegal events

Police, local authorities and industry associations have warned would-be party promoters against organising illegal gatherings in the UK this long weekend, after the government announced tougher fines for those found to be facilitating “the most serious breaches of social distancing restrictions”.

Britain’s home secretary, Priti Patel, announced earlier this week that anyone who organises an illegal rave, unlicensed music event or any other “unlawful” gathering of more than 30 people could be liable for a fine of £10,000.

Those who attend said events could also be punished with a fine of £100 for each violation, Patel (pictured) said.

“To the organisers of this sort of activity, I strongly advise that you seriously consider the risks you’re creating for everyone in attendance and the wider community,” says Commander Ade Adelekan, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for unlicensed music events.

Illegal raves have been on the increase in the UK in recent months amid the continuing shutdown of live entertainment, with unlicensed events also reported in France and elsewhere in continental Europe.

In London alone, the Metropolitan Police has responded to more than 1,000 unlicensed events since the end of June, receiving information on more than 200 events across the city in a single weekend, according to the Home Office.

“The government must consider safe options to allow the night-time economy and events sector to reopen”

There are fears the three-day weekend (Monday 31 August is a public holiday in the UK) could see an escalation in the number of illicit events, with councils across the country warning people against organising or attending illegal mass gatherings.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-Time Industries Association, says a spike in unlicensed parties over the bank holiday weekend will “escalate an already increasing number of unregulated and unsafe events placing young people at risk”.

“Small house parties and raves have been bubbling under the surface of society for many years now – but lockdown has intensified this, with young people searching for alternatives to late-night venues as they struggle to cope with continuing restrictions on their lives due to the pandemic,” he comments.

“Bank holidays present a particular challenge, but given the imminent reintroduction of student communities to university cities, and restrictions on the reopening of nightclubs and venues, we are concerned that the freshers’ period will result in an eruption of illegal house parties and gatherings. This will create challenging times for police forces up and down the country.”

He continues: “As the night-time economy and events sector is unable to reopen to provide safe spaces for young people to express themselves, DIY alternatives are being organised which are unregulated and may compromise young people’s safety. Previous illegal events have resulted in several serious incidents, but have continued to grow in popularity over the last few months.

“Thousands of businesses remain closed and struggle to survive and protect the livelihoods of their staff while unsafe illegal events continue. The government must consider safe options to allow the night-time economy and events sector to reopen to help combat the rise in illegal parties and raves across the country.”+

 


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