In June and July 2021, we noted the terms of the Government’s consultation on its proposed Protect Duty. In a written statement on 19 December, the Home Secretary announced “the foundational policy elements that will form the basis of this Government’s upcoming Protect Duty Bill” developed in response to feedback received to the Government’s consultation.
Its two primary objectives will be to clarify who is responsible for security activity at locations in scope, thereby increasing accountability, and “to improve outcomes UK-wide so that security activity is delivered to a consistent level”. An inspection and enforcement regime will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance.
The Government appears to have accepted that requirements under the legislation should be proportionate, and the legislation will therefore establish a tiered model, introducing a requirements framework that is linked to the type of activity that takes place at eligible locations and the number of people that the location can safely accommodate at any time. There will be two tiers:
- Standard: “Locations with a maximum occupancy of greater than 100 people at any time will be required to undertake low-cost, simple yet effective activities to improve protective security and preparedness. This will be achieved by accessing free awareness-raising materials and development of a basic preparedness plan considering how best a location can respond to a terrorist event in their locale.”
- Enhanced: “Locations with an occupancy of 800+ at any time will additionally be required to take forward a risk assessment and subsequently develop and implement a security plan. Enhanced Duty holders will be required to meet a reasonably practicable test.”
Locations with a maximum occupancy at any time of fewer than 100 will fall out of scope; however, they will be encouraged to adopt good security practices on a voluntary basis. This will be supported by free guidance and training materials. The Government will have the ability to adjust capacity thresholds in response to changes in the nature of the terrorist threat.
There will be some limited exclusions and exemptions from the Duty, and Places of Worship will receive “bespoke treatment”: all Places of Worship will be placed into the standard tier, with a small cohort of locations that charge for entry placed into the enhanced tier.
Enforcement will predominantly be delivered via a civil sanctions regime (to a civil standard) rather than through the criminal law, though in the case of the most egregious breaches a limited number of criminal offences will be available.