In May 2021, Fieldfisher published an article on the UK government's proposal to impose a legal obligation on public venues and organisations to consider the safety and security of their staff and the public.
The government has now (as of 10 January 2022) published its response to the Protect Duty public consultation, in a development that has been anxiously anticipated by many organisations responsible for public venues and spaces.
The findings of the consultation were perhaps unsurprising, but will nevertheless require action on the part of many organisations.
Seven out of 10 respondents to the consultation agreed that those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take "appropriate and proportionate measures" to protect the public from terror and security attacks.
The majority of respondents considered that venues with capacities of more than 100 people should fall within the scope of the duty.
However, there was an understanding that small and medium sized venues should not face the same requirements as larger venues, and that the measures should be proportionate to the size of each organisation, which will be a relief to many SMEs.
There was a strong consensus among the respondents that accountability should form a key part of the Protect Duty, including the need for clear roles and responsibilities for event organisers and those at the senior level within the organisation.
In terms of compliance, half the respondents were in favour of an inspectorate to monitor compliance and to share best practice.
In addition, there was an even split of those who were supportive of the use of civil penalties to ensure compliance. On the other hand, some respondents considered enforcement would be financially challenging and problematic.
The Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP has confirmed that legislation will be introduced this year that will "strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses"
Fieldfisher's Health and Safety team recently ran a series of events on the Protect Duty, including a Roundtable, exploring the forthcoming legislation and its potential implications for businesses across a number of sectors.
The team has also been advising on how the proposed Protect Duty will interact with, or impact on, existing health and safety regulations including risk assessments. This is a key issue for businesses going forward.
For more information on the implications of the Protect Duty and how to better prepare for compliance, please contact a member of Fieldfisher's Health and Safety team.
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