The 22nd May 2017 was no ordinary day for Britain, for Manchester and for those who attended the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena. It will forever be the day a horrific act of terror was displayed.
Just minutes after the final song, with many leaving early to beat the queues, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive; killing 22 people and injuring 200 more. But sadly that wasn’t the only attack the UK faced that year…
On the 3rd June, just 2 weeks after the Manchester bombing, terror struck again in the capital. Three terrorists drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge, followed by a rampage with weapons on foot; killing 8 people. From here, it was apparent that Britain’s public spaces and venues needed a development in education around dealing with the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack.
Since these major attacks, some venues and public places have implemented anti-terror procedures. According to Sky News, new sporting stadiums have anti-terror measures built in to help the flow of large crowds. Drop off zones at major airports are now much further from the terminals to create a larger blast zone. Trauma packs have been strategically placed within commercial buildings with workers trained in battlefield first aid.
Many thought after these two attacks on the public, security measures would be heightened and implemented across the UK. However, with counter-terrorism plans and education not mandatory like fire safety prevention plans, many venues and public places have not been able to apply this approach. Martyn’s Law looks to change this with a Government led legislation allowing all venues, large or small, to have access to the relevant education they need to keep their customers safe.
So what is Martyn’s Law?
Figen Murray’s son, Martyn Hett, was one of 22 to be killed during the Manchester Arena bombing back in 2017. She was concerned about the lack of security within venues and public places, even after these two attacks, which could be seen as potential terrorist targets.
According to Survivors against Terror,
“Martyn’s Law is a piece of legislation that creates a coherent and proportionate approach to protective security. It should apply to any place or space to which the public have access. For small venues this may simply require an addition to their already mandated fire plan, for bigger more complex venues it will require a more holistic approach.”
Martyn’s Law has been constructed around five requirements that venues or public places will need to follow in order to create a safer environment. They include:
- Utilise the counter-terrorism training and advice that is available through NaCTSO, with at least 25% of staff having been Counter-Terrorism Awareness trained
- Complete vulnerability assessments of their premises
- Create a mitigation plan for the risks and vulnerabilities identified by the assessments
- Produce a counter-terrorism plan incorporating the principles of Guide, Shelter and Communicate
- The requirement for local authorities to plan for the threat of terrorism.
After Figen Murray received more than 23,000 signatures on the Martyn’s Law petition, the UK Government including the Prime Minister, Security Minister and Secretary of State have expressed they are a hundred percent behind this campaign, with discussions of making this a legal legislation for venues to follow.
Although, some members of the Government have argued the necessity of a new legislation, stating existing laws could be adapted to contain these requirements. However, there aren’t any existing laws within the UK that contain counter-terrorism security measures or policies to prepare for these attacks. Famously, legislation’s that have been shoe-horned into a ‘one-size-fits-all’ concept lose their purpose and intent, leading to failure.
Many questions surround the cost of this potential legislation and whether smaller venues and public places will be able to afford these security measures. According to Survivors against Terror, a great deal of Martyn’s Law can be achieved without incurring major costs. For some venues it’s expressed in very minor changes; for example, adding a lock to a door that previously didn’t or installing an extra CCTV camera where there may have been a blind spot. These modifications are available at reasonable costs and could save many lives in the process.
The question isn’t when will terrorism stop, but how can public places prepare for these acts and plan to mitigate fatalities and injuries from every aspect of these attacks? We’ve talked about the need for an improvement in event security and public safety previously, and so we ask; is Martyn’s Law the starting point Britain needs to create safer public places and prevent further tragedies at events?