How Protect Duty Legislation impacts Nightlife Businesses

Why businesses and venues need to be aware of Terrorism

At NDML our mission is to look out for entertainment and leisure businesses. We are examining range of emerging and evolving risks and are able to understand how these risks impact the nightlife industry.

One of the biggest changes to legislation in the UK’s history is about to hit British businesses. The new Protect Duty legislation is predicted to significantly change the responsibilities of the entertainment and leisure businesses.

We investigate the origins of insurance around terrorism, how the nature of attacks has changed, and what the new legislation stipulates and what it means for nightlife businesses.

For the Summary in Short, see here.


Protect Duty – Summary in Full:

The origin of Modern Terrorism

Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot is probably the UK’s most infamous historical terrorism event, but the first instance of modern terrorism can be accredited to the 1980 IRA bombings. The attacks targeted property, infrastructure and business operations. The use of IEDS and vehicle bombs led to a high level of physical destruction.

Political and religious extremism has evolved modern terrorism to become more unpredictable and indiscriminate. Targets are less defined, broader, and mitigating against threats is proving more difficult. Local public transport, entertainment venues, stadiums and live music halls newly anticipated targets of these mostly improvised or random attacks. The 7/7 bombings in 2005 caused devastation, as did the 2017 Borough Market attack and the Manchester arena bombing.

Modern terrorism now seemingly requires less forethought. Individuals do not require financial backing in order to carry out an attack that could cause significant hysteria. The unpredictable nature of attacks means it’s difficult for the authorities to know when or where an attack will happen. The current national threat level of the UK is SUBSTANTIAL, signifying the high likelihood of a terrorism event. Therefore, businesses need to be aware of the signs of potential attacks and how to counter them.

The forms of terror attacks are now much broader, and so too are the methods of countering them. More sophisticated attacks are being seen, such as cyber attacks, drone usage and chemical weapon attacks. This further contributes to how unpredictable attacks can be; businesses must continue to be vigilant while the government act against terrorism through investment in new areas beyond that of intelligence and law enforcement.

The Manchester Bombing Report

The 2017 Manchester Arena bombing shocked the world and set in motion a series of events which has led to one of the biggest legislative changes to policing terrorism in decades. Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, one of the 22 victims, demanded legislation to compel publicly accessible locations to conduct basic security activities.

Investigation into the attack and the movements of the lone attacker showed what more could have been done to possibly prevent the terror event. CCTV footage showed repeated suspicious behaviour, prompting an enquiry into how more responsibility should be placed onto public locations for their awareness, safety and security.

Volume 1 of the Manchester Arena Enquiry reported many missed opportunities and a systematic risk management failure on the part of the venue. The key failings which the report illustrates include; insufficiently trained personnel, inadequate risk assessments, unsecure security perimeter, complacency, and ‘grey-spaces’ (spaces where there is a lack of clarity over ownership and therefore responsibility for protection).

These failings have been the focal point of the development of plans put into law around the specific responsibilities of venues and businesses. These laws, introduced late 2022, will help to prevent future terror attacks. This piece of legislation is called ‘Protect Duty’.

What will Protect Duty enforce?

Protect Duty is the biggest counter-terrorism shift, putting counter-terrorism responsibilities upon 650,000 UK businesses. This duty to protect will fall on any business that can accommodate over 100 people at their premises. This will include commercial businesses, music spots, nightlife enterprises, and any publicly accessible venues. Businesses with over 250 staff now also find themselves with increased responsibility.

Adhering to these responsibilities will be through training and risk assessments. Cultural security improvements include education around scenarios and security breaches as well as moving to irradicate complacency. Mandatory physical updates would involve bollards, intruder detection technology, CCTV correctly and tactically placed, as well as extra secure entrances.

Statistical reports and considerations around Protect Duty have been provided by the government.

However, the biggest challenge will be the grey-spaces – the shared responsibility spaces. New legislation dictates that every business that uses the space will have a responsibility over its security. Whilst this increases vigilance, it requires cooperation. Whilst this increases vigilance, it also creates logistical difficulties that venues should start to think about sooner rather than later, beginning to build relationships to help mitigate this shared risk.

What can you do to protect against terrorism?

The first steps should involve discussing actions with neighboring nightlife businesses, assess individual risks, and identify practicable protective measures. In this way, counter-terrorism becomes closer to a holistic system rather than a tick-box exercise.

The key areas that have been noted within government guidance are; remaining aware of the present likelihood of attacks and what type of attacks may occur, identifying and rectifying the weak spots of your venue or the hidden areas, and creating a tangible plan to monitor your business’s risks. Implementing measures, both physical and cultural, is advised and will help to bolster defences.

The final plan on how the government will police the new legislation is still yet to be finalized. But similarities to the health and safety legislation would suggest that both civil and legal prosecution would hold businesses to account. Inspections on a venue’s preparedness could lead to fines, with owners and business directors personally at risk of persecution should there be serious failings or neglect. Businesses must take these new responsibilities seriously.

When will Protect Duty legislation take effect?

The implementation period will carry on throughout 2022, and is predicted to be mandated in December. Even so, venues can still begin to take action now. By consulting with NDML, you are putting yourself and your venue on the best possible footing, moving towards being compliant from the day the legislation is mandated.

Protect Duty – Summary In Short:

  • Terror threats are varied and new protective legislation will be put in place as a response to the Manchester Arena Enquiry
  • Counter-terror is now the responsibility of businesses and venues
  • New legislation affects outlets with a capacity of over 100 people or businesses with 250 staff
  • Venues must work together to mitigate terrorism risks and protect ‘grey-spaces’
  • Legislation is expected to be in place December 2022
  • Stay up to date with NDML articles or contact us for advice on how to get Protect Duty ready

At NDML, we will soon release a Protect Duty toolkit outlining further information which is yet to be published. This toolkit will include helpful advice as well as things to look out for. We will send out a bulletin including answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Follow us to stay up to date and ensure you and your business are fully prepared and protected.