Expert Insights

Expert Insights

Duty to protect in public locations: Martyn’s Law draft bill published

Retail stores, restaurants, entertainment venues, hospitals, leisure centres and sports grounds are just some of the 19 listed “qualifying public premises” captured by the recently published Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law (in tribute to Martyn Hett who was killed in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017). This protect duty sets out the requirements which these premises will need to meet to ensure public safety and is expected to affect approximately 300,000 premises across the UK.

Currently, there are no mandatory requirements for public premises to prepare for terrorist threats. The government recognises that to aid reducing the risk from the evolving threat from terrorism, and increase public safety, a standard level of protection and a consistent approach to preparedness is required by those responsible for publicly accessible locations. The legislation aims to strike a balance ensuring robust, yet proportionate measures at public venues to protect the public, without being overly burdensome on businesses.

The new duty will apply to any qualifying public premises with a capacity of 100 people or more, with public access for a specified use detailed in Schedule 1 to the Bill. These premises may be located within other premises, such as a restaurant within a shopping centre. Premises, or parts of premises, used as offices or residential are excluded. Open air premises are caught, provided the public only access with express permission (there is no requirement for entry payment).

As expected, qualifying public premises are divided into two tiers: all public premises captured by the legislation are “standard duty premises”, and those with a public capacity of 800 people or more are “enhanced duty premises”. 

The requirements which apply to enhanced duty premises will also apply to “qualifying public events”. This is intended to capture temporary events held at premises which are not a qualifying public premises, with a capacity of 800 people or more. Express permission is required to attend, but not necessarily entry payment.

The duties, which are the responsibility of the occupier (or the person in control of the premises where a public event is being held) can be summarised as follows:

Capacity (people)

Classification under
the draft Bill
Less than 100 Not qualifying public premises
  • Not captured by the legislation (there will be encouragement for these premises to adopt voluntary measures).
  • Guidance and  training materials will be made available for additional support.
100-799 Standard duty premises
  • Undertake standard terrorism evaluation annually and every time a material change is made to the property, or it’s use in which they consider how best their premises can respond in the event of a terrorist event.
  • Provide terrorism protection training to relevant workers.
800 or more

Enhanced duty premises


Qualifying public events

All the above, as well as:

  • Undertake an enhanced security risk assessment to reduce risk of acts of terrorism occurring and reducing the risk of physical harm to individuals if a terror attack were to occur.
  • Prepare and maintain a security plan.
  • Appoint an individual as the  designated senior officer, where the responsibility rests with a company, this must be a director, manager, secretary, or other similar officer of the company. The Regulator will retain details of this person and must be notified of any change.

What could this cost businesses? The government’s impact assessment states that the cost to a standard tier premises is estimated at around £2,000, and for an enhanced premises £80,000. Figen Murray (Martyn Hett’s mother), a key campaigner for the legislation, has recently suggested a ‘ticket levy’ in order to help businesses meet these costs but this will not be an option for many types of businesses captured by the legislation (for example, healthcare centres).

There will be a lead time to enable businesses to prepare and the government will produce dedicated guidance. The likely implementation date will be 2025. Once in force, all qualifying public premises or public events will be required to register with the Regulator (details not yet available), who will monitor premises using investigatory powers. The Bill sets out enforcement measures for non-compliance and a range of civil sanctions available to the Regulator, including serving restriction and/or contravention notices on individuals. Failure to comply may result in fines (fixed penalty not exceeding £10,000 for standard duty premises but rising to the higher of £18m or 5% of global revenue for enhanced duty premises and qualifying events) or, in the case of enhanced duty premises or qualifying public events, criminal offences.  

Significantly, the Bill also provides that where a corporate entity commits an offence with the consent, connivance, or neglect of a senior corporate officer then that individual also faces criminal liability.

The draft Bill will now be scrutinised by Parliament and refined to strike the right balance between public protection and proportionality. Given that the cost to business is likely to be high, businesses should be considering to what extent their premises or events are captured by the legislation and prepare for the likely costs associated with compliance.

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