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Martyn’s law and public protection – what you need to know

The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, or Martyn's Law, is about to pass through Parliament. Dr Clare Mills takes a look at the legislation and sets out what you need to know if your charity owns or manages a publicly accessible location.


Martyn’s Law refers to the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill which is currently listed for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee, ahead of formal introduction in Parliament.

There is cross-party support for the legislation and significant work has already been taking place to embed the law into how we consider safety at publicly accessible locations (PALs).


What you need to know

If your organisation owns or manages a PAL – whether that’s a large museum or a small village hall, or an open space such as a community sports facility, then you need to know about the duties which the new law will create.

You’ll also need to know if you are planning an event using a PAL, such as a sporting event as a fundraising run or bike ride, or a community festival at your local park.

I’ve been following the development of this legislation and recently attended a webinar from the National Counter-Terrorism and Security Office which was specifically aimed at VCSE organisations.

Here’s what I learned:

  • Knowing what we can do, being prepared and having knowledge and support readily available can help control fears and strengthen our confidence.
  • The legislation will introduce a tiered model for PALs, according to their capacity or expected number of participants, and the activity taking place. The tiering is to ensure proportionality of the level of planning and preparation required. The legislation is intended to ensure venues, managers, staff and volunteers are prepared for, and ready to respond in the event of, an attack.
  • The ProtectUK ecosystem of support and knowledge (details below) is freely available to you, your staff, volunteers and trustees, to help you make sure your organisation is compliant with the legislation and – much more importantly – that your people feel more confident about how to identify suspicious activity and how to respond appropriately.


The ProtectUK hub is a central platform where you can

  • find the latest advice and guidance
  • obtain risk assessment templates
  • register to receive messages and alerts via email and text
  • sign up to webinars
  • locate the latest news
  • join in on discussion forums


The hub is updated regularly and more information, resources and guidance will be added as these are developed.

Alongside the hub, anyone using a smartphone can download the ProtectUK app from Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store. The app provides ‘at a glance’ reminders for what to do in different situations, news and alerts, and simple ways to report your concerns to the relevant authorities.

The third element is ACT e-learning, found on the ProtectUK hub. I tried out the e-learning and felt my confidence about what to do in different situations rising as I worked my way through. The complete suite of modules takes between 40-75 minutes to complete and is some of the best online learning I’ve seen for being engaging, informative and positive.


Knowledge for work and life

As with first aid training, the knowledge and confidence I developed by working through the learning won’t just help me in my work. My first aid training means I’d feel confident helping someone taken ill in the street or involved in an accident. After completing the ACT e-learning modules, I feel I’m more likely to spot potentially suspicious behaviour in a public venue, from someone taking sneaky pics of the CCTV cameras to an unattended bag or box.

More importantly, I know what to do next! And in case I forget, I’ve downloaded the app onto my phone. I’ve recommended to our team that everyone at CFG takes this training, because none of us knows when we might need it. And, just like our first aid training, it equips us for much more than being at work.

Across the charitable sector, we come across lots of people who have been through enormous loss and pain, and which has driven them to campaign for change and to help others.

Figen Murray’s son Martyn Hett was just 29 when he was killed in the Manchester Arena bombing. The devastation of his death felt by Figen and her family has led to her campaigning and the creation of the Protect Duty, known as Martyn’s Law.

Sadly, in the last decade, we’ve seen a shift in terror targeting from high-profile venues to more accessible public spaces, including the Manchester Arena and busy city streets and squares. The number of successful attacks remains very low, but the counter-terrorism specialists are constantly at work to detect and prevent attacks.

The current threat level in the UK is substantial, meaning an attack is likely. By thinking about what we can do, as individuals and as people responsible for places used by the public, we can help prevent an attack and, if the worst happens, respond appropriately.


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