What will the Protect Duty Bill require of your nightclub or bar?

What is the Protect Duty Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law, and how will it impact nightclubs and bars?

Now the election’s over, where do we stand with the Protect Duty Bill that’s been in progress for over a year? Will the new government push through Martyn’s Law, and how should nightclubs prepare?

In May 2023, the government published the Terrorism Protection of Premises Draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny. Between February and March 2024, the government carried out a consultation process on Martyn’s Law, named after a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing, and was in the process of reviewing the results when the general election was called.

There’s now a new government in power who are expected to speed up processes. Nightclubs and bars should get ready for the Protect Duty Bill to be passed and understand how this new law could impact them.

At Romero Insurance Brokers, we look at the details of the Protect Duty Bill and what nightclubs and bar should prepare before it starts being enforced – in correspondence with Rradar.

What is the purpose of Martyn’s Law?

Martyn’s Law imposes requirements on certain businesses and entertainment venues, with the objective of improving society’s protection against a terrorist attack. It will require nightclubs and bars to take proportionate steps related to safety, security and awareness. The new law may force changes to the entrances and exits of nightclub premises, as well as improved lighting and screening processes.

What nightlife businesses are affected by Martyn’s Law?

Here are the businesses impacted by the new Protect Duty Bill:

  • Premises accessible to the public.
  • Premises for a listed purpose – those being Entertainment and Leisure, Retail, Food and Drink. i.e. this would include nightclubs, bars and pubs.
  • Businesses with a capacity of 100 or more.
  • Any premises with an outdoor location with a physical boundary that can be accessed with express permission – such as an outdoor entertainment area.

There are different levels considered within the Protect Duty Bill, including a more enhanced level that will require increased obligations.

Standard tier –

This applies to any premises with a capacity between 100 and 799 individuals. Most nightclubs and bars would fit this category.

Standard tier businesses are required to have in place procedural measures to reduce the risk of harm to individuals at the premises in the event of an attack. The full extent of these measures are yet to be published, however we expect them to include risk assessments, secure entrance and exits, lighting improvements and instructions for staff.

Enhanced tier –

This applies to any premises with a capacity of 800 or more, as well as certain temporary events.

Requirements for the enhanced tier are much more significant. Large nightclubs and entertainment venues are expected to have in place a risk assessment specific to terrorism, a security plan that aims to mitigate security measures, security lighting, as well as screening procedures. Staff will also need to undertake specific terror attack training, which is to be overseen by a senior security officer.

Nightclubs will be required to accurately calculate capacity – prior to the election, the Government said they will produce a capacity calculator for venues to establish or restrict capacity.

Enhanced tier businesses will need to complete a structured terrorism risk evaluation document. This document should not only review your own nightclub or entertainment venue, but also include consideration of possible attacks on sites in the immediate vicinity, and how this might affect your business. Nightclubs and bars should therefore coordinate with neighbouring businesses.

What obligations of Nightclubs are required by Martyn’s Law?

A full list of obligations is laid out in the Protect Duty Bill.

It includes registration, where a responsible person must notify the regulator of their nightclub’s if assumed to be within the scope.

Nightclub obligations also includes a terrorism risk assessment which must be periodically revised. The enhanced tier enforces large nightclubs to have their risk assessment done three months before hosting an event.

All workers should be properly trained, as well as nightclubs needing to appoint a senior officer to coordinate the preparation of security plans.

Nightclubs and bars are also obliged to cooperate with third party organisations and neighbouring businesses for the purpose of protection.

How will Martyn’s Law be enforced?

There will be a regulator. The regulator has the power to investigate and enforce, as well as appoint inspectors to visit your premises. They can request information, which if not given, can apply for a warrant to enter your premises. Enforcement notices or issued to rectify security issues.

The regulator could also shut down or restrict an event if they have reasonable grounds to believe it necessary to protect the public from a terror attack.

The regulator can issue a penalty to those who have failed to meet their obligations. The maximum amount for standard tier businesses is £10,000. For enhanced tier businesses the maximum is £18 million or 5% of worldwide revenue.

A new criminal offence would also be instigated. This is for business and nightclub owners who fail to comply with requirements, as well as those that provide false or misleading information. Operators could be held personally liable if the offence was committed with intent. The prison term is 6 months.

When the Protect Duty Bill is finalised and passed, the regulator will make clear what is expected and issue guidance.

When will Martyn’s Law compliance start?

Before the election and the dissolution of Parliament, the leaders of both main parties committed to supporting the Protect Duty Bill. Now we know that Labour won, we expect Martyn’s Law to be passed and enforced after the summer recess. Nightclubs and bars should start to prepare now and key an eye out for more updates on regulatory guidelines.

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