This article was originally published in ALARM, June 2023.
The long-awaited Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill (the Bill) was published on 2 May 2023, with the aim of keeping people safe from terrorist attacks by introducing proportionate security requirements for certain public venues and events.
The Bill now faces pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Select Committee before it is formally introduced to Parliament.
Responses to the Home Office consultation from January 2022 have been considered when drafting the Bill. The Bill also builds on the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) which aims to: ‘reduce the risk to the UK and its citizens and interests overseas from terrorism, so that people can go about their lives freely and with confidence’.
The Government states: the aim of the legislation is ‘to improve protective security and organisational preparedness at a wide range of public premises across the UK. Those responsible for certain public premises will be required to consider the threat from terrorism and implement reasonably practicable and proportionate mitigating measures. It will also establish an associated inspection and enforcement regime, which will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with the requirements of the Bill.’
The Bill in its draft form is expected to affect approximately 300,000 premises across the UK. A person responsible for qualifying public premises or a qualifying public event will be required to adhere to the requirements of the legislation.
Premises are included by reference to their use. Events and premises must have the minimum capacities specified (as set out below). However, the requirements will not extend to offices or private dwellings.
Qualifying public premises are those which are:
- Primarily used for a use or uses (specified in Schedule 1), such as premises for the sale of food and drink, leisure or entertainment activities, sports grounds, museums, hotels, places of worship, hospitals, railway stations, schools and public authorities.
- Accessible to the public (or a section thereof), including only in part.
- Have a public capacity of 100 or more individuals.
Qualifying premises are split into two tiers:
- Standard duty premises – 100+.
- Enhanced duty premises – 800+.
The Bill will also apply to locations with ‘qualifying public events’.
The event must satisfy the following conditions:
- It is to be held at premises which are not qualifying public premises.
- Those premises (or parts thereof) are accessible to the public, or a section of the public, for the purpose of attending the event.
- The public capacity of the premises is 800+ people.
Standard duty requirements include undertaking a terrorism evaluation on an annual basis and providing relevant workers with appropriate terrorism protection training.
For those premises or public events which fall under the requirements for an enhanced duty, the following will need to be undertaken:
- An enhanced terrorism risk assessment, that is reviewed with each material change to or use of the premises on an annual basis.
- Protection training for relevant workers.
- Reasonably practicable security measures to be put in place.
- A designated senior officer to be appointed.
- The preparation and maintenance of a security plan.
According to the explanatory notes, persons responsible for both standard and enhanced duty premises will also be responsible for ensuring premises are registered with the regulator, and persons responsible for qualifying public events will be required to give notice of an event to the regulator. Whilst the regulator is yet to be confirmed, the Regulatory Policy Committee in its March 2023 report noted that “The impact assessment does not explain fully why local authority inspectors could not ensure compliance, as they fulfil requirements of other regulation on such venues, as opposed to creating a new national regulator and team of compliance staff across the country.” As such, there is a possibility that this may translate into a new responsibility for local authorities. However, this point is yet to be explored by parliament.
A tribunal will be set up to deal with any disputes regarding who is responsible for the premises, whether they are qualifying public premises and the tribunal can give directions for complying with a duty.
The person responsible for the qualifying public premises or event may give a co-operation notice to any other person who has control of the premises to ensure all steps are met, with a copy of that notice to the regulator. For example, a retailer in a shopping centre must also comply, re-iterating the need for collaboration where there is potentially more than one occupier.
The regulator will have the power of both civil and criminal sanctions, including contravention notices, restriction notices and monetary penalties.
The Bill proposes the regulator can:
- Issue a fixed penalty up to a maximum of £10,000 for standard duty premises.
- Issue a maximum fixed penalty £18 million or five percent of worldwide revenue, whichever is greater, for enhanced duty premises and qualifying public events.
- Introduce criminal offences for senior individuals (such as directors and managers) for certain failures or misconduct of their organisation. If convicted, the Bill allows for a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment.
Likely impact on public services
There will be costs associated with setting up, familiarisation and compliance. The Government estimates bringing sites into compliance with the Bill to be £2,000 per site for standard tier sites and £80,000 for enhanced tier sites.
Under Schedule 1 of the Bill ‘specified uses of premises’, hospitals will classify as qualifying public premises, with health care described as ‘all forms of health care provided to individuals, whether relating to physical or mental health, and including ancillary care’.
Educational institutions also fall under the scope of the Bill. However, these institutions (excluding higher education institutions) will be treated as standard duty premises regardless of whether they meet the enhanced duty premises requirements or not.
For higher education institutions with capacity of 800+, the enhanced tier will apply. The reasons for this decision, as set out in the Government’s impact assessment, is because “… of sector threat, the nature of the premises which, apart from at higher education premises, have existing access control measures and mitigating measures in place, for example, as a result of safeguarding policies.”
Other premises such as local authority buildings, police stations, charitable premises and courts also have the potential to be within the scope of the Bill. However, transport premises already subject to security legislation will be excluded.
Public service organisations recognise the importance of this Bill. While in draft at present, work is already underway to ensure that public bodies and organisations can comply with the legislation when it comes into force. It will be important for organisations to collaborate and share knowledge and best practice.