Martyn’s Law Places New Requirements on Museums and Galleries

Posted on: July 3, 2023 by

On 2 May 2023, the government published the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, which outlines the requirements that venues and other organisations will need to meet in order to ensure public safety and preparedness in case of a terrorist attack. The Bill, also known as Martyn’s Law as a tribute to Martyn Hett, one of the 22 victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack, will apply to all public premises across the UK that have a visitor capacity of over 100 individuals. As such, under the draft legislation, museums, galleries and libraries (and archives) will be required to increase their response to and awareness of potential terrorist attacks.

Clause 7 of Schedule 1 of the Bill provides that libraries fall within the proposed legislation and defines “museum or gallery” as follows: “(2) In this paragraph,museum or gallery” includes— (a) an archive, and (b) a site where a collection of objects or works (or a single object or work) considered to be of scientific, historic, artistic or cultural interest is exhibited outdoors or partly outdoors.

Under the new law, the British Museum and other institutions will be required to improve their preparedness for terrorist attacks

Martyn’s Law will introduce a two-tiered system for locations, dependent on the capacity of the premises. Premises which come under the standard tier, which applies to venues with a capacity of over 100 people, will be required to undertake low-cost activities to increase their preparedness. These activities will include terrorism protection training targeting the types of terrorist attacks likely to occur, indications of a terrorist attack and the best procedures to follow if an attack does take place. Enhanced tier premises – those with a capacity of 800 or more people – will be subject to further requirements, including appointing a designated senior security officer who will be obligated to frequently review the venue’s security. In addition to this, as per Clause 9 of the Bill, premises will be required to register. Where a “qualifying public event” is to be held at the venue, the person responsible for the event must ensure that the regulator is informed before, or as soon as is reasonably practicable after, details of the event are first made available to the public (Clause 10).

Prior to this, the UK has had a more voluntary approach to security of this kind; Martyn’s Law aims to increase the requirements and responsibilities of public venues to ensure public safety. In order to establish these requirements, an inspection and enforcement regime will be created. Sanctions and penalties will be issued to venues which do not comply.

Martyn Hett’s mother, Figen Murray, welcomed the draft legislation – stating that Of course Martyn’s Law won’t stop all terror attacks, but it will make crowded places better protected and prepared, and make the terrorists’ job that bit harder.


Image Credits:

British Museum from NE 2, 2018 via Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 – File:British Museum from NE 2 (cropped).JPG – Wikimedia Commons