New anti-terrorism legislation in memory of a Manchester Arena bombing victim should "protect people and be proportionate", the justice secretary said when the ‘open consultation’ was launched in February 2021.

Building on "Martyn's Law", the new Protect Duty will require public places and venues to improve security. The official public consultation closed today (2 July 2021).

The Protect Duty (previously known as ‘Martyn’s Law’) is a new piece of anti-terrorism legislation, designed to ensure the public is better protected from a “multifaceted, diverse and continually evolving” terror threat. It follows a campaign from Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett who sadly lost his life in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in May 2017, who has highlighted the need to improve security standards in crowded public spaces and venues.

The Government has said it is “committed to improving the safety and security of public venues”, with the consultation set to consider how to “develop proportionate security measures to improve public security”.

So, what does ‘Martyn’s Law’ propose? Martyn’s Law aims at creating a consistent and proportionate process for enhancing security across any place or space to which the public have access.

It consists of five key requirements for such organisations responsible for those locations:

  • that they engage with freely available counter terrorism advice and training;
  • conduct vulnerability assessments of their operating places and spaces;
  • mitigate risks created by the vulnerabilities identified;
  • develop and implement a counter terrorism plan;
  • and a requirement for local authorities to plan for the threat of terrorism.

The consultation targeted all those who own or operate publicly accessible locations that a ‘Protect Duty’ would potentially affect, including:

  • Venues
  • Organisations
  • Businesses
  • Local authorities
  • Public authorities
  • Individuals

A publicly accessible location has been defined by the Government as: “Any place which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission”. This includes a wide range of venues, such as sports stadiums, festivals, hotels, pubs, casinos, high streets, retail centres, schools & universities, places of worship, parks, transport hubs and many more.

The consultation document has outlined four key questions:

  • Who (or where) should legislation apply to?
  • What should the requirements be for those parties within the scope?
  • How should compliance work?
  • How should government best support and work with partners?

In the ministerial foreword for the consultation, James Brokenshire, Security Minister, said: “There is much good work already being done by many organisations, and I welcome these ongoing efforts. However, in the absence of a legislative requirement, there is no certainty that considerations of security are undertaken by those operating the wide variety of sites and places open to the public, or, where they are undertaken, what outcomes are achieved. This consultation considers how we could improve this position, through reasonable and not overly burdensome security measures.”

I agree with Paul Bernard, Director at the Security Institute, who has stated that there is a question to pose about the ‘Duty’ – does this proposed legislation go far enough or could we, as security specialists, do better and modernise how we protect and prepare our public venues and spaces in a proportionate but joined up holistic way?

Over the years, we have introduced terrific initiatives designed to protect us from terrorism, such as Project Griffin and Project Argus and Action Counters Terrorism Awareness.

Sir John Saunders, the chairman of the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, said after publishing his report about security on the night of the bombing on Thursday that he “fully supports” the introduction of a duty on large venues such as the Arena.

He recommended the requirements of such a duty are “stringent”, adding: “There seems to me no reason why large commercial organisations should take all reasonable precautions to protect their customers from a terrorist attack.”

As Martyn’s mother says: “I along with other supporters of Martyn’s Law, welcome the recommendation that ensuring sufficient protection and preparation of any potential incident is an obligation for venue owners."

Now the recommendations have to be acted upon by the Government so that all venues have basic security and so that no other families have to go through what we have.”

The Protect Duty legislation would make it a legal requirement for venue operators to consider the risk of a terrorist attack and take steps to protect their customers which could include airport-style checks for concert venues and sports stadiums as metal arches and enhanced bag searches.

Owners and operators of “publicly accessible locations” cover a spectrum of activities including festivals, music venues, hotels, pubs, clubs, bars, casinos, shopping centres, schools, universities, places of worship, job centres. The Government has said in the past it could involve minimal costs for many organisations.

Lessons learned have implications for the design and protection of publicly accessible locations worldwide!

For more information on our services contact Enspire Solutions by Telephone +44 (0) 132 960 9501 or email

Blog by Chrys Stevenson, Enspire Solutions Group Director of Strategy + Business Development

Headquartered in the UK, the company specialises in the design, delivery, and implementation of protective solutions globally against a wide variety of blast and ballistic threats. Within the Group is Force Development Services, a specialist manufacturer of mission critical products and bespoke engineering solutions which includes ballistic protection and protected structures.

Further reading

Are we doing enough to protect crowded places?

Insights 19 November 2020

Counter-terrorism design principles

Insights 01 April 2021