The Protect Duty: How it affects your business

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Protect Duty:

How it affects your business

On the 2nd May 2023, the government published draft legislation entitled the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill. This was created in response to the Protect Duty public consultation and Martyn’s Law campaign.

Here’s what we know so far about what the likely requirements and impact on businesses will be:

Jump to individual FAQs:

What is the Terrorism (Protection of Property) Bill?

This is the name for the draft legislation which was previously referred to as the Protect Duty and Martyn’s Law. At the moment, it isn't law - the next step is a period of scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The Bill will place responsibility on some premises and events to help protect the public from terrorist attacks.

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What’s Martyn’s Law?

Martyn’s Law is a campaign for better counter terrorism awareness, training and preparedness in spaces the public can access. It was started by Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett. Martyn was one of the 22 people who died in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017. Martyn’s Law asks for 5 key requirements to be put into place for relevant locations:

  • To engage with freely available counter terrorism training
  • To risk assess a venue inside and outside to find vulnerabilities
  • To put in place measures to mitigate the vulnerabilities found in the risk assessment
  • To create a counter-terrorism action plan and make sure staff know what to do in the event of an attack
  • For Local Authorities to be prepared and work with bigger venues to lower the risk of terrorism

The Terrorism (Protection of Property) forms the proposal for Martyn's Law.

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Why is this legislation needed?

Since 2017, there have been 15 terror attacks on UK soil. A long-term trend has seen more attacks planned or carried out by individuals and small groups - without being part of a wider organised group.

The methods of many of these attacks are low sophistication, such as using knives or vehicles. These methods don't make an attack less deadly, but they can make it harder to predict targets or spot preparations.

The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill will ensure consistency in mitigating the risks of attacks. The requirements aim to be proportionate and are in relation to the capacity of each space. The aim is to reduce the opportunity for attack and ensure staff know what to do if an attempted attack takes place.

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When will the Terrorism (Protection of Property) Bill come into force?

The exact timescale is still unknown. The publication of the draft Bill moves the proposals into a period of scrutiny. The government has already said that it will be looking at some areas of the Bill in more detail, so there could be changes before it becomes law.

There’s an unofficial expectation that the Bill may become law by early 2024. In the meantime, there’s lots of advice and guidance available via the ProtectUK website and app, which any organisation can access for free.

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What’s a Qualifying Public Premises or Publicly Accessible Location? Which venues will be affected?

Premises falling under the remit of the Bill were previously referred to as Publicly Accessible Locations (PALs). In the draft Bill, these are now called Qualifying Public Premises.

The Bill covers both buildings and permanent outdoor premises with a physical boundary. The general rule of thumb is based on capacity, with affected venues and events falling into one of two tiers:

  • Standard Tier – for premises with a public capacity of 100 – 799 individuals
  • Enhanced Tier – for premises with a public capacity of 800+ individuals

The Bill applies to spaces which are publicly accessible and used primarily for a purpose listed in the Bill. Offices and residential buildings aren't a Qualifying Premises. There are some exceptions for spaces with particular uses, including:

  • Places of worship. All places of worship are expected to be in the Standard Tier, regardless of capacity. There are existing mitigation activities already in place, funded by the government. The exception is any place of worship which charges a fee for admission.
  • Places covered by an existing transport security regime. These places are exempt from the Bill, as there are existing security measures and requirements already in place.
  • Temporary events. The current proposal is for one tier only, for events with a capacity of 800+ individuals. Access must be by 'express permission', e.g. payment or ticket - whether the ticket is paid or free.
  • Charities, community groups & volunteers. Many of these groups run activities which would qualify. This has been singled out as an area which needs further research during the scrutiny period. A common thread has been to create requirements which are proportionate and don't put undue pressure on organisations.

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What’s a Qualifying Public Event?

A Qualifying Public Event is one with a public capacity of 800+ individuals, which meets the following criteria:

  • It isn’t held at a Qualifying Public Premises
  • Members of the public will have access to the premises to attend the event
  • This access must be by express permission only (i.e. by payment or ticketed entry, whether the ticket is paid or free)

The different capacity for events reflects the challenges of meeting requirements with a temporary space and workforce. This is another area which looks likely to be considered further during the scrutiny period.

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What are the requirements likely to be?

The government has stated repeatedly that the requirements are intended to be proportionate. They should be straightforward for qualifying premises to put into place.

Each tier has a different level of requirements. For the Standard Tier, requirements are likely to cover:

  • Creating a plan to ensure better preparedness
  • Engaging with free training
  • Raising awareness of terrorism among staff
  • Building processes to effectively cascade information to staff

The Enhanced Tier is likely to have similar requirements to the Standard Tier, as well as:

  • A more in-depth risk assessment and security plan, which has been considered to a ‘reasonably practicable’ level
  • Reasonably practicable measures implemented to mitigate the risks of attack

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What if the requirements are too expensive for my business?

The intention of the Bill was to create proportionate requirements which don't put undue pressure on businesses.

The measures for Standard Tier premises are generally low cost, reducing the burden of implementation. As an example, a short counter-terrorism e-learning course is available for free. This would help staff understand signs to look out for.

The more in-depth requirements for the Enhanced Tier reflect the higher potential risk. It's likely most of these premises will already have a level of security measures in place. The additional requirements should build on best practice and ensure organisations are prepared.

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Who will be responsible for implementing the requirements?

Responsibility will be placed on the person in control of a premises or event - usually the operator or occupier. There's also a requirement for co-operation from anyone who has aspects of control over a premises, if it's needed to deliver requirements.

For events, the person controlling the premises where the event is to be held is responsible for meeting the requirements of the Bill.

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What happens if my organisation doesn’t implement the requirements?

As part of the Bill, there will be an inspection capability created. This is to ensure premises are meeting the requirements, but also to educate and advise affected organisations.

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Can I do anything to prepare in the meantime?

There's already some guidance and advice available for organisations looking to prepare, and in some areas aspects of Martyn’s Law are being bought in for licensing requirements ahead of the Bill becoming law. For example, Manchester City Council have included elements of Martyn’s Law as part of the requirements for new premises licenses, alongside developing a voluntary scheme for existing license holders.

Advice is already available via the following resources:

ProtectUK has a website and app with free advice and training. It's been developed by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO), Home Office and Pool Reinsurance. Among the resources are an example risk management template.

Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) runs a campaign with advice of how to manage suspicious activity. It also runs a free e-learning training course, available via ProtectUK. This gives staff a more in-depth understanding of counter-terrorism and how it can be applied in their organisation.

The See, Check and Notify (SCaN) training is also freely available online.

And many security providers, like ourselves, already offer venue-specific risk assessments, fully trained staff and mitigation activities to clients.

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Will the Protect Duty affect the accessibility of my venue?

Changes made to venue security should never impact on accessibility. It’s expected that many of the changes, such as staff training, will happen behind the scenes without any noticeable impact to visitors.

Whenever physical security measures are required to mitigate risks, accessibility must be maintained. This is important to keep in mind as these measures are designed and deployed.

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Will the Terrorism (Protection of Property) Bill put people off visiting my business?

During the consultation process, concerns were raised that the legislation could reduce spontaneity or cause anxiety in visitors.

The aim is that by improving protection, spaces will be safer, and this should be seen as a positive by most. It's expected that most of the measures will be behind the scenes, so won't have a direct impact on visitors.

Careful communication of security measures can improve the sense of safety - although these needs to be balanced to avoid raising excessive concerns.

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What if my venue’s capacity is under 100?

The legislation - and therefore legal requirements and inspection capabilities - will only apply to venues with a public capacity over 100 as the Bill currently stands.

However, lots of the advice will be made freely available, so smaller premises can access this if they wish. This gives the opportunity to implement low-cost measures where it's of benefit.

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Where can I get more advice on Martyn’s Law?

Once the legislation has become law, detailed guidance and support will be made available for affected organisations.

In the meantime, advice is already available through the following websites and organisations:

  • ProtectUK – a website and app supporting organisations to evaluate and manage risk.
  • Action Counters Terrorism (ACT) – a Government campaign educating people on signs to look out for and how to report anything suspicious.
  • ACT Awareness e-Learning – free counter-terrorism awareness training, available via the ProtectUK website
  • SCaN training (See, Check and Notify) - free training helping organisations to maximise safety and security using their existing resources.

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Can Cobac Security help us implement the Protect Duty requirements?

The requirements of the Protect Duty build on best practice in the security industry, and we’re already supporting clients to meet many of them through our services.

As an approved contractor with the Security Industry Authority (SIA), we’ve already been working to and evidencing many of the requirements that appear in the new Bill, such as risk assessments, completion of ACT training, developing training plans and materials and monitoring staff training.

Our staff are all supported by our wider systems, where we monitor real-time information about activity, incidents and risk in order to respond quickly and escalate incidents where needed.

As a standard part of our service, we undertake an in-depth risk assessment for each specific venue. This takes into account data from various sources, including local and national intelligence. We’re then able to advise clients on the most effective ways to mitigate risks in their premises.

Our teams are kept up to date with the latest industry news and developments, so you can be sure of front-line staff who are working to current best practices at all times.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can support your business, please get in touch on +44 (0)1332 948320 or


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