How to Prepare your Business for the New UK Terrorism Law

How to Prepare your Business for the New UK Terrorism Law

New terrorism legislation is due to be introduced in the UK. A response to the suicide bombing at Manchester Arena on 22 May 2017 which killed 22 people and injured 100 others, the Protect Duty Act is designed to protect the public from terrorist attacks. The Home Office estimates 650,000 UK businesses will be affected.

What is the Protect Duty Act and which businesses does it apply to?

The Protect Duty law requires owners or operators of publicly accessible locations to take appropriate measures to protect the public from terrorist attacks. For the first time, businesses will be legally required to formally assess terrorism risk.

It’s the result of a campaign by Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett died in the Manchester bombing. Her campaign, Martyn’s Law, provoked the government into public consultation. The result is this new legislation.

Protect Duty will apply to:

  • Public venues (including entertainment and sports venues, tourist attractions, and shopping centres with a capacity for over 100 people)
  • Large organisations which operate at publicly accessible locations and employ more than 250 staff (shops and cinemas, for example)
  • Public spaces such as parks, beaches, thoroughfares, bridges, town/city squares and pedestrianised areas, as well as event organisers using these locations

If my business is affected what will be required?

If your business falls into one of the above categories, you will be required to:

  • Consider and implement ‘reasonably practicable’ protective security measures as well as demonstrate your business is prepared
  • Develop a robust plan to deal with a terrorist attack
  • Use available information and guidance provided by the government and police to consider terrorist threats to the public and your staff at locations you own or operate from
  • Assess the potential impact of these risks across your operations and premises as well as through your organisation’s systems and processes.

Put simply, if the new law applies to your business you will need to assess the risk of terror attacks, put measures in place to reduce the risk and put together robust terrorism plans.

How do I prepare for this new legislation?

You’ll need to assess your risk mitigation procedures and adjust them accordingly. The process may include:

  • A physical risk security assessment to reduce an attacker’s freedom of movement. Identify vulnerabilities and implement protective measures including the use of technology to identify a potential threat, limit the opportunity for an attack and coordinate a response in the event of an attack
  • Updating security policies and procedures, including shelter-in-place and evacuation plans
  • Training employees to recognise and respond to a potential threat and clarifying who is responsible for securing a location
  • Regular reviews of your security strategy, training, and processes.

If there’s a serious security breach, you may need to conduct a vulnerability assessment and prepare a counter-terrorism plan. You will also want to ensure your company representatives engage with the police and government agencies for training and best practice.

How will it affect my business insurance?

The new law will significantly change the way organisations manage terrorism risk. If Protect Duty applies to your business and you fail to meet its requirements, you could face prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act. While the new rules are not expected to be introduced until 2023, it’s wise to start preparing now.

Check your public liability and employers’ liability insurance limits. You may need to buy additional terrorism cover if it’s not already included in your policies.

You might also want to purchase a terrorism liability policy. It’s designed to cover any bodily injury and property claims expenses and compensation you’re liable for.

If you already have terrorism insurance, consider increasing your limits. You want to be sure you have sufficient cover in place in the event of a deadly attack.

As the responsibility for complying with Protect Duty is from the top down, claims could be lodged against individual directors for failing to meet requirements. Check with your insurer or broker that your directors’ and officers’ liability policy can cover claims like these.

Risk assessment consultants

If you’re a consultant or specialist firm that carries out Protect Duty risk assessments, ensure this service is listed on your professional indemnity policy. Make a mistake or give the wrong advice and you could find yourself facing a claim. And if you haven’t added Protect Duty risk assessments to the list of services you provide, you may not be covered.

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