Protect Duty

Protect Duty – known widely as 'Martyn's Law' – comes in the wake of a number of terrorist attacks in public spaces across the UK – most notably, the Manchester Arena bombing. The purpose of Protect Duty is to improve security in public spaces, protecting and enhancing the safety of both visitors and staff.

excel securty formE

(photo courtesy of Henry Havis ExCeL London - counter terror exercise during Formula E: July 2022)

The Government is proposing to introduce a new Protect Duty from early 2023. This legislation will enhance the protection of the United Kingdom’s publicly accessible locations (PALs) from terrorist attacks and ensure that organisations and businesses are prepared to deal with incidents.

As we’ve seen in recent years, there has been an increase in terrorist attacks in PALs – anywhere that people visit, congregate in, or pass through. One of the main features of these attacks is the targeting of people.

Any PAL is a potential target - it is essential that owners and operators of all such locations understand the risks faced and consider appropriate mitigations. The key initial steps to understanding this threat and risk are:

  • Understanding the terrorist threat – understanding that motivations, targets and attack methods vary, and change over time
  • Understanding the specific risks the threat poses to your site and/or organisation, and how and why your site or organisation might be affected – either by being targeted directly, or indirectly because of its proximity to neighbouring sites, businesses or organisations.

Read more about the Protect Duty and the recent consultation

What the Protect Duty means to you

Who the proposed Protect Duty applies to

There are three main areas it will potentially apply to:

  • Public venues (eg. entertainment and sports venues, tourist attractions, shopping centres with a capacity of 100 persons or more)


  • Large organisations (eg. retail or entertainment chains employing 250 staff or more that operate at publicly accessible locations)


  • Public spaces (eg. public parks, beaches, thoroughfares, bridges, town/city squares and pedestrianised areas). This includes event organisers using these spaces.


Protect Duty




How the proposed Protect Duty affects you

The Government considers that the owners and operators of public venues and large organisations should be required to:

  • Use available information and guidance provided by the Government and the police to consider terrorist threats to the public and staff at locations they own or operate
  • Assess the potential impact of these risks across their functions and estate, and through their systems and processes
  • Consider and implement ‘reasonably practicable’ protective security and organisational preparedness measures (eg. developing a strategy that ensures you have assessed your site and its use, including suitable mitigation measures to protect staff, as well as staff training, and plans for how to react in the event of an attack)
  • Develop a robust plan on how to deal with or act as a result of a terrorist attack.

For smaller organisations and venues, this would involve simple low-cost (or no-cost) preparedness measures, such as ensuring that:

  • Staff are trained and aware of threats, likely attack methods and how to respond
  • Staff are trained to identify the signs of hostile reconnaissance and to take appropriate action
  • The organisation’s response to different attack types is regularly updated and exercised.

For multi-occupancy sites a “lead accountable person” must be agreed by all parties who will then co-ordinate all security functions alongside a lead responsible person.  Most likely the owner of the site.

How to prepare

Consider what you and your colleagues can do to make it harder for a would-be terrorist to carry out a successful attack by:

  • Being alert to suspicious behaviour and activity in and around your site, such as people loitering or displaying an unusual level of interest in asking questions, filming or photographing
  • Assessing the possible vulnerabilities of your site to various attack methods, and taking suitable measures to mitigate the risks
  • Being security-minded in your communications, particularly online
  • Encouraging and enabling a security culture in the workplace, eg. ensuring that any concerns can easily be reported and will be acted upon
  • Considering how you and your staff would respond to an incident occurring inside, outside, or near to your building or site.

For further info on the ACT programme, please visit the ACT website.

!!Buyer beware!!

In light of the legislation and scheme still being defined, the final details and requirements are not yet known. NaCTSO do not endorse any current courses or products that mention supporting either compliance of the Protect Duty or the Competent Persons Scheme. ProtectUK are unable, at this stage, to provide any assurance for third party courses that are not endorsed by NaCTSO, or not hosted on the ProtectUK site unless otherwise specified. Should you or your organisation wish to use products or purchase and attend courses that mention potential up and coming legislation or the scheme, NaCTSO can provide no assurances that these courses will support you in being compliant in the future as currently there is limited information on the final requirements and scope at this stage.

Read the full statement here

Training and Guidance

Protect UK

ProtectUK app - sends real-time news and counterterrorism (CT) incident updates from UK Protect, contains the latest practical advice and guidance to help you protect your business, as well as information on how to respond in the event of an attack: ProtectUK app

How can AEV members keep updated as the Protect Duty evolves?

The AEV Security Working group (open to all AEV member security professionals) meet monthly to review security issues such as talent, traffic management and anti-terrorism operations at venues. The group have actively shared thoughts and submitted a collective view on the consultation in collaboration with the National Arenas Association (NAA) and continue to run Protect Duty Awareness Sessions for members across AEV, AEO and ESSA.

AEV members can log into the member zone to gain access to session recordings and slides.

The next session for members will take place on Wednesday 24th August at 1300hrs. Contact if you would like to book a place.


AEV members are also represented by current working group chair Henry Havis (head of security ExCeL London) on relevant groups hosted by the Home Office/Met Police. 

The working group's responsibilities include staying ahead of related legislation and building relationships with key bodies such as CPIE, CPNI, CTBIE, NPoCC, NaCTSO and SIA as well as collaborating on information sharing and best practise.


As the Duty evolves AEV remains the conduit to information dissemination for members and sister associations.

The information contained on this page will therefore be updated accordingly.


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    Danielle Worker
    Corporate Events Team Leader, Silverstone Circuits Ltd
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    Phil Wetz
    Retail & Catering Manager, ExCeL London
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    Venue Health & Safety Manager, Olympia London
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    Head of eForce and IT, Olympia London (Chair of Cross Association Technology WG)
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    Head of Marketing & Communications, Olympia London
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    Head of Marketing and Communications, ExCeL London
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    Senior Exhibition Account Manager, ACC Liverpool
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