The first duty of the Government is to protect the public, and we are committed to improving the security of public venues, as outlined in our 2019 manifesto. The Government are proposing the Protect duty whereby certain venues and organisations would be required to consider terrorist threats and reasonable mitigations to these.
While there is much good work being done by many organisations to improve security, 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 considerations of security and corresponding mitigating measures.
A consultation document was published on Friday 26 February, which seeks the views of those organisations and venues potentially within the scope of the protect duty, as to how we can work together to develop appropriate security measures to improve public security. It puts forward criteria and thresholds for inclusion, and considers how those responsible for public places could consider threat and appropriate proportionate mitigating action. It also considers what support would be required for venues and organisations to fulfil the requirements of the duty, and what oversight and sanctions would be appropriate were there to be non-compliance.
The consultation is for an extended 18-week period, in recognition that many of those potentially within scope continue to be impacted by covid-19. Extending the consultation period into the summer will allow those organisations more time to respond to proposals as businesses return to more usual operation. The Government will carefully consider next steps and their timing in light of consultation responses and the ongoing situation with regards to combating covid-19.
I would like to pay tribute to the families of those who have died in the recent attacks we have seen in the UK, many of whom have called for a legislative requirement to consider security to be implemented, in particular Figen Murray and the Martyn’s Law campaign team.
A copy of the consultation document was placed in the Libraries of both Houses on Friday 26 February.