LONDON — Owners and operators of public spaces and venues in the U.K. will need to put in place measures to protect the public from terrorist attacks, Security Minister James Brokenshire announced Monday.
The new so-called “Protect Duty” would require venue operators to consider the risk of attacks and take “proportionate and reasonable measures” to prepare for such a scenario. This could include increased physical security, training of staff and response plans.
In drafting the new law, the government said it would take into account lessons learned in two recent terrorist attacks in London, at Fishmongers’ Hall and in Streatham. The duty also follows discussions with victims’ groups established after the Manchester Arena attack in 2017, in which 22 people lost their lives when a suicide bomber detonated his device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.
“Our first priority is keeping the public safe and preventing more families from suffering the heartbreak of losing a loved one,” Brokenshire said in a statement. “We are in complete agreement with campaigners such as Figen Murray [the mother of one of the victims of the Manchester attack] on the importance of venues and public spaces having effective and proportionate protective security and preparedness measures to keep people safe.”
A public consultation will launch in the spring and will seek views from businesses, public authorities, the security industry and campaign groups, the government said. Earlier this month, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson fast-tracked a U.K. bill to end the automatic early release of terrorism offenders.
Labour’s Shadow Security Minister Nick Thomas-Symonds said there can be “no objection to a proper consultation” but called for more police officers. “A duty to protect is no substitute for professional policing. Combating the terrorists requires everything from community policing through to counter-terrorism,” he said.