After three and a half years, the third and final report of the independent public inquiry of the Manchester Arena Terror Attack in 2017 in which 23 people were killed and 1,017 were injured, has been published with heavy implications for all stakeholders in the operation of venues and public sites nationwide.
2022 saw a significant ramping up of awareness around Protect Duty now to be known officially as Martyn’s Law, with great credit due to the tireless work by Figen Murray OBE, the mother of Martyn Hett – a victim of the attack – and her team, including her husband, Stuart. Corps Security and other companies have been engaging with and studying consultation documents to understand how clients will be impacted.
In October Corps Consult invited Figen Murray to address 90 of our own clients at the Royal Opera House, London, and spread the critical importance for support of Protect Duty. Raising awareness across the professional security sector has seen great momentum, with LinkedIn providing a useful platform.
Shortly after the second report of the inquiry was released, another devastating incident occurred at the O2 Academy in Brixton involving a ‘crowd crush’ on December 15th which claimed the lives of two concert goers. Since that incident, whistle-blowers from the venue’s medical provider have come forward saying that only half the advised medical staff were on duty that night.
This tragic incident, while not ostensibly terror related, is an example of how future mandatory requirements of the expected Protect Duty legislation will help prevent and mitigate crowd control issues too. The collateral positive impact of the legislation on risks, aside from terrorism, will be huge.
The third and final report released this month (March 2023) has examined whether the attack could have been prevented if the Security Service (MI5) had taken different steps. The report identified a “significant missed opportunity to take action” which could have prevented the attack from happening citing communication breakdowns between MI5 and Counter Terrorism Police.
The implications of Protect Duty are significant, as businesses that implement its guidelines and requirements will benefit not only from the prevention and mitigation of terror related threats, but also from those relating to criminal actions and crowd control issues.
Although the exact details of the new legislation is yet to be announced, it is set to compel businesses and organisations to have in place the necessary detailed plans and procedures for protecting people at all future events.
Even before the incident at the O2 Academy Brixton, Figen Murray met with Rishi Sunak and other ministers to emphasise the importance of Protect Duty legislation becoming law. The incident in Brixton is indeed a tragic coincidence that brings the breadth of Protect Duty’s importance back into focus. If Protect Duty had been in place by December, more than three years after the Manchester Arena terror attack, lifesaving and mitigating precautions at the O2 Academy may well have been actioned.
In Late 2022, the Home Office released a statement, as part of their Protect Duty consultation document, announcing the likelihood of a separate inspectorate to oversee the individuals responsible for implementing the legislation’s requirements. Members of this inspectorate will need to be drawn from somewhere, and it may be that the inspectorate will become the responsibility of the Security Industry Authority (SIA), or perhaps more likely of the new National Protective Security Authority (NPSA) which has evolved from the former CPNI.
The consultation document outlined the need for designating “suitably qualified persons” in each venue to be appointed as the responsible person for implementing the Protect Duty provisions. The implications will be far reaching.
We can expect the new legislation to mandate requirements for conducting extensive security risk and vulnerability assessments. Once these processes and practices are in place for securing events, then regardless of business size, such measures cannot be abandoned for general daily business activities. The effect will be to create enhanced levels of resilience across organisations encompassing a wide range of business sectors.
The consultation document reminds us that there is currently no legislative requirement for organisations to employ or consider public security measures at the vast majority of public places. Given this, the new legislation will constitute a ground-breaking development leading to overall enhancements in security risk management and resilience.
Of course, we need to keep in mind that the requirements of the Private Security Act 2001 only became fully implemented three years after that Act was passed, and equally with Protect Duty there will likely be a ‘soak in’ period to allow venues and organisations to become compliant. This could take the form of a phased roll out where at the end of the ‘soak in’ period penalties will apply.
The responsibility and accountability for the implications of Protect Duty will likely extend beyond the owners and operators of sites, and will capture event organisers and those responsible for security. The Manchester Arena terror attack laid bare the chinks in the armour around responsibility, and exposed the shortcomings that emanated from private security, the police, the other blue light services as well as the operators of the venue. It also highlighted certain shortcomings on the part of the Security Service (MI5)
As the roll out of Protect Duty edges closer, the remainder of 2023 will see a period of fast learning for everyone set to be impacted by the legislation. Protect Duty’s impact will extend well beyond event security, and consequently everyone in the FM community will need to think about the steps that need to be taken and the preventative measures to be put in place.