Martyn’s Law: Response to Manchester Arena Bomb Takes Shape in Belfast

The Protect UK Conference was held recently at ICC Belfast. Presented by TINYg, the world’s largest, free to use Counter Terrorism Information network, and the Department for Business and Trade, the Conference brought together security experts, policymakers, and members of the events industry to discuss The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law in memory of Martyn Hett, one of 22 Manchester Arena bombing victims.

The Bill, expected to become law later this year, aims to ensure better protection against terrorism in public places and may require businesses to fulfil necessary but proportionate steps to mitigate the impact of a terrorist attack and reduce harm at events in the future.

The scaling of the proposed law was discussed at length in Belfast, with businesses with a capacity of 100 and above such as pubs, restaurants, stadiums, cinemas, theatres, and museums potentially required to introduce and maintain measures to mitigate threats including training staff on evacuation and lock-ins in the event of an attack. The law will also apply to organisers of public events hosting more than 100 people. Meanwhile, businesses with a capacity of more than 800 people may have to develop detailed incident response plans and implement security measures such as intruder alarms and secure fencing. Companies that fail to comply could potentially face fines of up to £18m or five per cent of their worldwide revenue.

Keynote speakers at the event included Figen Murray OBE, Mother of Martyn Hett and campaigner for Martyn’s Law, along with Shaun Hipgrave, Director of Protect and Prepare at the Home Office, and Neil Marshall, National Counter Terrorism Managerat HMRC.

Julia Corkey, Chief Executive of BWUH Ltd. which operates Waterfront Hall, Ulster Hall, and the Conference’s host venue ICC Belfast, said, “At ICC Belfast, our vision is to create a world-class stage where people make great things happen, and so we are humbled to have hosted and contributed to this important conference. The Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack had a significant impact on our industry, it gave a much-needed focus on the tragic consequence of inadequate security measures at public venues. As a venue operator we stand united in advancing the Martyn’s Law legislation and pledge to do our utmost so that no more lives are lost due to preventable security vulnerabilities”

Deputy Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, Alistair Sutherland QPM, said this is an opportunity for businesses to make the communities they operate in safer.

He explained: “The Manchester Arena Terrorist Attack had a profound impact on public venues, shedding light on the need for venues to have in place adequate security measures supported by risk assessments. Events like Protect UK are crucial in continuing to raise the profile of Martyn’s Law. At its core, this is about keeping people safe in their communities by ensuring there is clear understanding and alignment across public venues. Introducing The Terrorism Bill will require ongoing commitment from businesses, local authorities, and of course support from policing.”

David Evans, International Chair and Founder of TINYg, echoed Deputy Chief Constable Sutherland’s thoughts, adding that continued collaboration is crucial.

He said: “Martyn’s Law will improve protective security and organisational preparedness by requiring premises and events to consider terrorist risk and their response to an attack. It’s been a productive session at ICC Belfast. We brought together experts, policymakers, and stakeholders to discuss what Martyn’s Law will mean for the sector and outline the steps businesses need to take to prepare for its planned introduction.”

Also in attendance were major local venues including SSE Arena and The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, along with representatives from Belfast City Council, PSNI, NI Ambulance Service and Eventsec.

Charlie McCloskey is the Director of Events and Customer Experience at BWUH Ltd., He explained how BWUH Ltd. is already taking steps to strengthen its commitments to security.

He said: “Martyn’s Law is potentially transformational for the sector. We’re proud to say that extensive groundwork is already underway to assess how our venues will respond to new legislative requirements. We pride ourselves on our patrons having a positive experience, and whilst our venues may be very different in terms of heritage, design, and offering, the prioritisation of safety is evident across all three.”

BWUH Ltd. recently made the shortlist for the Safety and Health Excellence (SHE) Awards 2024. The shortlisted project, ‘Operation Fallout’, included a mock strategic emergency exercise to test the joint response to a major incident at live entertainment venue, Ulster Hall. This simulation enhanced the venue’s readiness to manage emergencies and modelled real-life scenarios to scrutinise and improve the building’s infrastructure, operational systems, and emergency response procedures. In recent years BWUH Ltd have demonstrated the ability to deliver safe and secure events such as CYBERUK, Northern Ireland Investment Summit as well as festival of remembrance.

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