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Prepare your charity for Martyn's Law

In December 2022, the government revealed details of a proposed new law – the Protection Duty. This new law seeks to keep people safe, enhance national security and reduce the terrorism risk facing the public by protecting public venues.1

It’s now known as Martyn’s Law, after Martyn Hett, who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017. Martyn’s law will directly impact any person or organisation responsible for a wide range of publicly accessible venues and locations.1

The law will require venue organisers to consider the threat from terrorism and put in place ‘appropriate and proportionate’ mitigation measures. This will mean being properly prepared and ready to respond effectively, armed with a clear understanding of what to do if an attack should occur.  Martyn’s Law stipulates that better protection will be delivered through improved security, staff training and clearer processes.1

Martyn’s Law and charities

Martyn’s Law will apply to locations with a capacity of 100 people or more, specifically those used for entertainment and leisure, retail, food and drink, museums, galleries, and sports grounds. It will also apply to places of worship, schools and universities.2

Many public buildings and venues - from the Albert Hall3  to a wide range of small music venues4  - are owned and operated on a charitable basis. Given that public events are crucial to charitable fundraising, it seems likely that Martyn’s Law will have a considerable impact on charitable organisations. Martyn’s Law is expected to be passed by Parliament in December 2023. It is therefore essential that all charities understand Martyn’s Law, how it might apply to them and how they can comply. . Once the bill passes into law, failure to comply may lead to sanctions, penalties and, by extension, damage to your charity’s reputation.4 In fact, those sanctions and penalties could include fines of up to £10,000 with the potential for an additional daily penalty of up to £500 per day.5

How will Martyn’s Law apply to charities?

First of all, Martyn’s Law will apply to both buildings and events with defined boundaries – provided they’re accessible to the public.5

However, not all such buildings and events will be treated the same. Instead, the law will apply in two tiers, standard and enhanced, based on a building or event’s maximum capacity:

The standard tier will apply to public premises or events with a maximum capacity of 100 people or more.

The enhanced tier will apply to those with a maximum capacity of 800 or more.2

Charity responsibilities under Martyn’s Law

While we can expect that the majority of charitable events will fall into the standard tier, the same may not be true of buildings operated by charities. Either way, we won’t be able to grasp the full picture until the bill passes into law.5

In the meantime, it’s vital for charities to understand their responsibilities and take reasonable steps to prepare for compliance before Martyn’s Law is passed.

Those responsibilities will include:

  • Standard tier: You must carry out basic, low-cost activities to improve efforts to limit and respond to terrorist attacks. That could include terrorism protection training and looking at ways to minimise the impact of an attack.2 One example of this is establishing a procedure to delay an intruder by locking doors while guiding people to alternative exits.5
  • Enhanced tier: The responsibilities here are likely to be more significant. It includes appointing a senior officer to regularly review your venue or event security, carrying out terrorism risk assessments prior to an event and implementing an event security plan.2

How can charities prepare for Martyn’s Law?

The first step is to ensure you have accessed and understood all of the relevant information. For instance, the government has released a Martyn’s Law fact sheet setting out the proposed new law. As well as this, the ProtectUK website is home to a wealth of advice and guidance. It also offers risk assessment templates, webinars and discussion forums - all of which will be updated regularly as new information becomes available.

What’s more, the ProtectUK hub is likely to be a useful resource. If you create an account, you’ll receive ‘at a glance’ reminders of what to do in specific circumstances as well as ACT e-learning focused on risk assessment, risk management and recommended procedures to deal with specific scenarios.6

Armed with that knowledge, you should revisit your health and safety plans as well as risk assessment and management protocols, to identify and address any gaps related to Martyn’s Law.

Finally, it’s always worth contacting your insurer or insurance broker for advice, as well as help with risk management. You should also consider reviewing your existing charity insurance arrangements. In particular, you should review your public liability insurance arrangement, to ensure your cover remains appropriate in light of the enhanced responsibilities and potential penalties associated with the new law.

Get in touch with a charity insurance expert