Following the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, and in a bid to scale up preparedness for any future terrorist attacks, the government is set to introduce legislation that will place greater responsibility on property owners to address security concerns and scale up preparedness for any future attacks.  Known as Martyn’s Law in tribute to Martyn Hett, one of the victims of the Manchester attack, the legislation will reform commercial property owners’ duty to protect where capacity is over 100 people.

Property Week has this week covered the topic in some depth which features Osborne Clarke's head of health & safety, Mary Lawrence

Mary here provides her full comments on the expected scope of the law and its implementation:

"Although we haven't yet seen a draft Bill, the government proposals which were the subject of consultation in 2021 would place legal duties on any organisation who owns or has control over a public space or publicly accessible location with:

  • Either a capacity of 100 people or more,
  • Or a venue of any capacity (if the organisation employs at least 250 people across one or more locations where there is public footfall and engagement"

"Larger capacity spaces (over 100 people) and larger companies (employing over 250 people irrespective of their location) will be affected"

The definition of public space and publicly accessible location is broad and would likely capture (amongst other venues):

  • Stadiums and arenas
  • Shopping centres
  • Places of Worship
  • Pedestrianised areas
  • Supermarkets
  • Retailers and restaurants
  • Schools
  • Student accommodation"

"The legal duty looks set to prescribe in law who is accountable for security within these spaces and better define roles and responsibilities.  We expect the requirement for a security risk assessment to be prepared, for staff training on emergency response and requirements as we see in other legislation such as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and the Building Safety Act 2022 around co-operation and coordination between parties involved in a space."

"As with other safety legislation in place or being discussed at the moment in the UK, we expect to see detail on an inspectorate for enforcement and criminal enforcement powers including corporate and individual prosecutions"

"Businesses likely to be caught with responsibilities can start planning now, including:

  • Looking at whether the business has the right people skills in place currently to think about security risk at locations it controls, manages or operates at;
  • Preparing a security risk assessment or liaising with others at a venue to obtain theirs;
  • Skilling up – look at the ACT e-learning package and think about additional training, including for emergency response;
  • Consider whether the business currently has in place an appropriate liaison with others in control of the space, authorities and local stakeholders on these risks."

"We expect having to wait until the Kings Speech in the autumn for further information about what this Bill could look like".

For more information on Martyn's Law and on health & safety issues and regulations affecting business, please contact Mary Lawrence.

Osborne Clarke's latest Health & Safety Regulatory Update can be found here.

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