What is Protect Duty and why your club needs to be aware of it?

One of the biggest changes to legislation in the UK’s history is about to hit British businesses and sports venues. The new Protect Duty legislation will significantly change the responsibilities of the entertainment and leisure businesses.

We investigate what the new legislation stipulates and what it means for sports and social clubs.

What does modern terrorism look like?

Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot is probably the UK’s most infamous historical terrorism event, but the first instance of modern terrorism can be accredited to the 1980 IRA bombings. The attacks targeted property, infrastructure and business operations. The use of IEDS and vehicle bombs led to a high level of physical destruction.

Political and religious extremism has evolved modern terrorism to become more unpredictable and indiscriminate. Terrorism now seemingly requires less forethought. Individuals do not require financial backing in order to carry out an attack that could cause significant hysteria and loss of life. Targets are less defined, broader, and mitigating against threats is proving more difficult. Local public transport, stadiums and sports venues, and publicly accessible locations are the anticipated targets for these forms of attack.

The unpredictable nature of attacks means it’s difficult for the authorities to know when or where an attack will happen. The current national threat level of the UK is SUBSTANTIAL, signifying the high likelihood of a terrorism event. Therefore, clubs need to be aware of the signs of potential attacks and how to counter them.

The Manchester Bombing Report

The 2017 Manchester Arena bombing shocked the world and set in motion a series of events which has led to one of the biggest legislative changes to policing terrorism in decades. Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, one of the 22 victims, demanded legislation to compel publicly accessible locations to conduct basic security activities.

Investigation into the attack and the movements of the lone attacker showed what more could have been done to possibly prevent the terror event. CCTV footage showed repeated suspicious behaviour, prompting an enquiry into how more responsibility should be placed onto public locations for their awareness, safety and security.

Volume 1 of the Manchester Arena Enquiry reported many missed opportunities and a systematic risk management failure on the part of the venue. The key failings which the report illustrates include; insufficiently trained personnel, inadequate risk assessments, unsecure security perimeter, complacency, and ‘grey-spaces’ (space where there is a lack of clarity over ownership and therefore responsibility for protection).

These failings have been the focal point of the development of plans put into law around the specific responsibilities of venues and businesses. These laws, introduced late 2022, will help to prevent future terror attacks. This piece of legislation is called ‘Protect Duty’.

What is Protect Duty?

Protect Duty is the biggest counter-terrorism shift, putting counter-terrorism responsibilities upon 650,000 UK businesses. This duty to protect will fall on any business that can accommodate over 100 people at their premises, therefore including social clubs, sports clubs, sports grounds, bars, pubs and community halls. Clubs with over 250 staff now also find themselves with increased responsibility.

Adhering to these responsibilities will be through training and risk assessments. Cultural security improvements include education around scenarios and security breaches as well as moving to irradicate complacency. Mandatory physical updates would involve the installation of bollards, intruder detection technology, well-placed CCTV, and secure entrances.

Statistical reports and considerations around Protect Duty have been provided by the government.

However, the biggest challenge will be the grey-spaces – the shared responsibility spaces. Grey spaces could include parks, recreational grounds, street pavements and roads, car parks used by multiple venues and nearby tourist locations. New legislation dictates that every business adjacent to the space will hold some responsibility over its security – and will therefore be accountable for an incident. Whilst this enforces increased vigilance, it requires cooperation. Sports and social clubs should start to think about taking action sooner rather than later, and begin building relationships to help mitigate this shared risk.

What clubs need to do to protect against terrorism?

The first steps should involve discussing actions with neighboring businesses. You can work together to make an action plan which would involve; assessing individual risks, identifying practicable protective measures.

The key areas that have been noted within government guidance are; remaining aware of the present likelihood of attacks and what type of attacks may occur, identifying and rectifying the weak spots of your club, and creating a tangible plan to monitor your business’s risks.

The final plan on how the government will police the new legislation is yet to be finalised. But similarities to the health and safety legislation suggest that both civil and legal prosecution techniques would be employed hold clubs to account. Inspections on a clubs preparedness could lead to fines, with owners and business directors personally at risk of persecution should there be serious failings or neglect.

When will Protect Duty legislation take effect?

The implementation period will carry on throughout 2022, and is predicted to be implemented in December. Even so, venues can still begin to take action now. By consulting with Club Insure, you are putting yourself and your club in the best possible stead, ensuring you are compliant the day the legislation is mandated.

What do clubs need to be aware of concerning the new Protect Duty legislation:

  • Terror threats are varied and new protective legislation will be put in place as a response to the Manchester Arena Enquiry.
  • Counter-terror is now the responsibility of businesses, sports and social clubs, communities and venues.
  • New legislation will affect venues with a capacity of over 100 people and clubs with 250 staff.
  • Clubs and businesses must work together to mitigate terrorism risks and protect ‘grey-spaces’
  • Legislation is expected to be in place December 2022.
  • Stay up to date with Club Insure news or contact us for advice on to get Protect Duty ready.

At Club Insure, we will soon release a Protect Duty toolkit outlining further information which is yet to be published. This toolkit will include helpful advice as well as things to look out for. We will send out a bulletin including answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Follow us to stay up to date and ensure you and your business are fully prepared and protected.

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