United Kingdom

Manchester Arena victim's mother welcomes consultation on new terror attack law

The mother of a Manchester Arena bombing victim today welcomed the launch of consultation into a new law that would make it a legal requirement for venues to improve security.

The proposed Protect Duty, which builds on Martyn's Law, would make it a legal requirement for venue owners to consider the risk of such attacks and take steps to protect the public.

The 18-week consultation will seek contributions over which sorts of venues should be bound by the law, and what compliance measures will be required.  

It follows a campaign by Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett, 29, was among the 22 people killed in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena in May 2017.

Martyn's Law had, among other things, called for venues and local authorities to have action plans against terror attacks.

Mrs Murray today said she was 'really, really grateful' that the consultation has begun.

The proposed Protect Duty, which builds on Martyn's Law, would make it a legal requirement for venue owners to consider the risk of such attacks and take steps to protect the public. Pictured: Manchester Arena victim Martyn Hett

It follows a campaign by Figen Murray (pictured today), whose son Martyn Hett, 29, was among the 22 people killed in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena in May 2017

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mrs Murray said that security 'has to be proportionate' and is not 'one size fits all'.

She added: 'It is literally depending on the size of the venue. The bigger the venue, the more security I'd like to see, obviously.

'Even in smaller places I'd like to know and sense that I'm safer, whether that is somebody standing at the door or metal detectors at bigger venues - security takes place in many formats really.'  

Justice secretary Robert Buckland added the proposed Protect Duty would 'minimise the risk of harm'. 

Venue owners currently have no obligation to act on free advice from specialist counter-terrorism officers about threats of a terrorist attack and how to mitigate the risk.   

Pictured: The aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing in the City Room foyer in 2017 

Pictured: Salman Abedi at Victoria Station in Manchester shortly before the attack

Following the attack on Manchester Arena, improvements made to security measures have included requiring every attendee to pass through a metal detector before entry.

Guests also now enter the venue through the car park beneath the Arena, rather than immediately walking into the City Room foyer where the attack took place following an Ariana Grande concert.  

The Government's proposed Protect Duty had been intended to go to consultation last spring but it was placed on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: 'I have heard first hand from those who have sadly lost loved ones in horrific terror attacks, and thank them for their tireless work to ensure others do not share their tragedy.

'This Government has already taken significant steps to amend our powers and strengthen the tools for dealing with the developing terrorist threats we face, and we will always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security.

What is proposed under the Protect Duty law? 

'That is why we want all organisations responsible for public venues and spaces to put public safety and security first.' 

Mrs Murray added: 'Today is a major stride towards making our country safer from terror attacks. I want to thank the Government for taking this step.

'To make Martyn's Law a reality is of huge relief and I look forward to making a lasting difference with all of those who have supported it.

'It's crucial this law is brought in and applies to all public venues because protecting the public from terror attacks is a priority and there cannot be exceptions.

'My focus will always be to stop such violent acts from happening again because Martyn and the other 21 victims cannot have lost their lives for nothing.'  

The public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing is due to resume next week.

Lawyers for Showsec, the firm responsible for stewarding and security at the venue, previously told the inquiry it was not to blame if its staff 'missed opportunities' on the night of the suicide bombing.

Terrorist Salman Abedi died in the blast when he detonated a backpack filled with explosives, murdering 22 innocent bystanders and injuring hundreds of others.

His younger brother, conspirator Hashem Abedi, was last year convicted of 22 counts of murder, attempted murder and plotting to cause an explosion likely to endanger life.

He was given 24 life sentences with a minimum term of 55 years before he can be considered for parole.  

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