A consultation has opened on new laws to make sure UK small businesses are better prepared for terrorist attacks. Here’s what risk managers need to know

The government is consulting on new laws to scale up preparedness for terrorist attacks.

According to ministers, the rules aim to ensure the public is protected without putting unnecessary burdens on smaller businesses.

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Known as Martyn’s Law, the bill will require premises to fulfil necessary but proportionate steps, according to their capacity.

It is named in tribute to Martyn Hett who was killed alongside 21 others in the Manchester Arena attack in 2017.

Security Minister, Tom Tugendhat, said: “Simple steps save lives. Martyn’s Law will help protect the British public from terrorism, and make sure public premises are better prepared in the event of a terror attack.”

The revised requirements for the Standard Tier

Standard tier businesses will have to:

  • Notify the Regulator that they are, or have become, responsible for premises within scope of proposed legislation and so subject to the relevant requirements therein.
  • Have in place procedural measures that could be expected to reduce, so far as reasonably practicable, the risk of physical harm to individuals at the premises in the event of an attack. These relate only to the procedures to be followed by people working at the premises in the event of an attack occurring or be suspected as about to occur.

Firms will be expected to have procedures for:

  • Evacuation – how to get people out of the building
  • Invacuation – how to bring people into the premises to keep them safe, or move them to safe parts of the building
  • Lockdown –  how to secure the premises against attackers, e.g. locking doors, closing shutters and using barriers to prevent access
  • Communication – how to alert staff and customers and move people away from danger. 

What does it mean for businesses?

Under the proposed law, premises will be considered ‘standard tier’ if they have capacity of 100-799 or ‘enhanced tier’, if they have a capacity of 800 or more.

The updated requirements for smaller businesses, set out in the consultation, are centred around outcomes rather than processes. For example, it will remove the requirement to complete any specific terrorism training.

Instead, those responsible for these premises will be asked to put in place procedures such as evacuation and lock-ins in the event of an attack.

The government claims that the new ‘reasonably practicable’ approach is better suited to the wide range of organisations because they will assess and implement procedures that are suitable to their individual circumstances.

“The updated requirements for smaller businesses, set out in the consultation, are centred around outcomes rather than processes.”

This aligns with other regulatory regimes, such as Health and Safety, which require reasonably practicable steps.

Tugendhat, said: “I want to make sure that our proposals are balanced and proportionate. That’s why our updated approach is easy to implement, and better tailored to individual businesses.”

A Martyn’s Law regulator will be established to monitor compliance and advise premises. Premises within standard tier will be required to notify the regulator that they are within the scope of this legislation.

This revised approach is designed to be low to no financial cost, with associated costs largely driven by the time taken to communicate them to staff.

What next?

The consultation on the updated approach to standard tier will seek views to make sure the new requirements do not place undue burdens on smaller businesses, while still protecting the public.

The consultation is open until 18 March. It particularly seeks views from those responsible for smaller premises, especially those in the community and voluntary sector.

Following the conclusion of the consultation process, the bill will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Tugendhat, said: “I’d encourage smaller premises to share their feedback on these crucial changes. Your feedback will help ensure that Martyn’s Law stands the test of time.”

You can see the consultation, and submit a response here.