Mother of Manchester bombing victim welcomes plans for security duty on venues

·3-min read

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

The findings to a consultation on the plans, which include a requirement for some public places to be prepared for an attack, were published on Monday.

Views were sought on what sort of venue should be bound by the so-called Protect Duty in the wake of the May 2017 atrocity, in which 22 people were killed after an Ariana Grande concert.

Martyn Hett
Martyn Hett, from Stockport, was among the 22 killed in the Manchester Arena terror attack (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

The Home Office said the Government is still developing the plans and proposed legislation, which would be “introduced to Parliament at the earliest opportunity”.

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.

Ms Murray told BBC Breakfast : “It feels like a giant leap forward in the right direction.

“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”, adding: “That would mean so much for me but (also) for the other families as well”.

Ms Murray told the programme: “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.

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.

Figen Murray
Figen Murray has campaigned for stronger security rules (Family Handout/PA)

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.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “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.

“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.”

The 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 had 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”.

It added: “Half the respondents were in favour of an inspectorate that would identify key vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, as well as share best practice. There was also an even split of those who were supportive of the use of civil penalties to ensure compliance to the duty.”

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