UK outlines new terror reform for venues following Manchester Arena attack

Mother of victim praises plans to put obligation on venues to have security measures in place

The Glade of Light memorial has been opened in memory of the victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena bomb attack. (Photo by Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)

Plans to impose a legal duty on venues to provide security against terror attacks have been described as “a giant leap forward in the right direction” by the mother of a man killed in the Manchester Arena bombing.

A consultation has been examining the security arrangements of venues following the Manchester Arena terror attack in 2017.

Proposed legislation was drawn up after 22 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

The Home Office unveiled the plans on Monday, which include a requirement for some public places to be prepared for an attack, and said they will be “introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity”.

Views were sought on what sort of venues should be bound by the so-called Protect Duty in the wake of the Manchester atrocity.

Figen Murray, mother of 29-year-old victim Martyn Hett, has campaigned for the introduction of new rules, dubbed Martyn’s Law, and called for venues and local authorities to have preventative action plans.

“It feels like a giant leap forward in the right direction," she told BBC Breakfast.

“I can see the end result now. It is massive because the government has clearly taken it on board and embraced it.”

She said government-led changes take a long time but “it would be amazing if this could be passed by the fifth anniversary of the attack in May”.

“That would mean so much for me but (also) for the other families as well," she said.

“Everything I do since Martyn died is purely for the sole purpose to stop other people from experiencing and having to live a life that we are living now.

“The effects of losing someone to a terror attack are life-changing.”

There is no current legal duty for venues to employ security measures at the vast majority of public places.

Figen Murray was given an OBE for services to counter-terrorism in the New Year honours list.

But seven in 10 of 2,755 respondents to the consultation agreed publicly accessible locations should take measures to protect people from attacks, including ensuring staff are trained to respond appropriately, according to the Home Office.

However, the department said there was an understanding that measures should be proportionate to the size of the venue, with a greater onus put on those that are larger.

“Following the tragic attack at the Manchester Arena, we have worked closely with Figen Murray, victims’ groups and partners to develop proposals to improve protective security around the country," home secretary Priti Patel said.

“I am grateful for their tireless commitment to the Duty and those who responded to the consultation, the majority of whom agreed tougher measures are needed to protect the public from harm.

“We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”

Many responses from campaigners and industry figures had shown “a majority support for tougher security measures to ensure that people are better prepared to protect the public from terrorist attacks”, Ms Murray said, adding that “a significant number of organisations” were already taking the “practical and proactive steps that will make us all safer when visiting public places”.

According to the Home Office, “very strong views were expressed regarding the need for accountability, such as the need for clear roles and responsibilities, particularly amongst event organisers, and those at senior level within venues and organisations”.

“Half the respondents were in favour of an inspectorate that would identify key vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, as well as share best practice," it said.

"There was also an even split of those who were supportive of the use of civil penalties to ensure compliance to the duty.”

Updated: January 10th 2022, 1:24 PM