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Terror attack law to be applied to public premises across Torfaen

Torfaen Civic Centre in Pontypool

VENUES including pubs, sports grounds, theatres and town halls will have to prepare for potential terrorist attacks under new responsibilities termed ‘Martyn’s Law’. 

The requirement, officially called the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) bill, when it was introduced as a draft law by the UK Government earlier this, summer is a response to a campaign by the family of Martyn Hett who was murdered, along with 21 others, when a suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in 2017. 

Figen Murray, the mother of the 29-year-old Coronation Street superfan, had called for new laws for those responsible for venues to consider the threat from terrorism. The UK Government has said it will require the implementation of “appropriate and proportionate” measures. 

An outline of the planned law was presented to Torfaen Borough Council’s licensing committee when it met on Thursday, September 28 in the council chamber at Pontypool’s Civic Centre, which would be one of the buildings in the borough required to draw up a plan. 

A “standard tier” will apply to public premises with a maximum capacity of 100 or more people which would also include pubs, clubs and village halls as well as venues such as Cwmbran’s Congress Theatre and Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall.

They will be required to undertake basic, low-cost activities to improve preparedness, including terrorism protection training and evaluating the best procedures to put in place in order to minimise impact of an attack. 

Pontypool Park’s rugby ground, and events such as Cwmbran’s Big Event, which can attract 10,000 people to the town’s Boating Lake, would be subject to an “enhanced tier”. That would apply to public premises and events with a maximum capacity of 800 or more people.

Enhanced tier premises and events will have further requirements including appointing a designated senior officer who must regularly review the security of the venue, to have in place and regularly review a terrorism risk assessment and to keep and maintain a security plan. 

There would be limited exemptions to the capacity requirements applying to education establishments and places of worship. 

Council licensing manager Claire Howells told the committee: “The aim of Martyn’s Law is to ensure that security preparedness is delivered consistently across the UK, ensuring the protection of the public. It will place stricter legal obligations on venues and the security industry in terms of adequately training staff and imposing preventative measures to deal with potential future terrorist incidents.” 

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The report was noted by the committee without comment. Ms Howells said the bill is expected to be passed in late 2023 or early 2024 and will apply to venues to which the public have access. It is not yet known exactly when Martyn’s Law will come into effect. 

When it was subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in June MPs said the bill was “well-intentioned” but it would burden small businesses and wouldn’t prevent attacks.