Nick Aldworth, a former National Counter Terrorism co-ordinator, has said the government needs to be more proactive in ensuring the security of our venues, stating that new legislation is needed to reduce the impacts of future attacks.
He supports the campaign to introduce Martyn’s Law, named after Martyn Hett, a victim of the Manchester Arena attack. The proposed law would make metal detectors and bag checks compulsory at all major public venues.
Currently, venues such as theatres, cinemas and concert halls are not legally obligated to put increased anti-terrorism security procedures in place. Nor are they obligated to make a plan-of-action for the event of an attack.
Shaun Hinds, chief executive from the Manchester Central Convention Centre, told Event Industry News: “It’s crucial that venues appropriately risk assess and devise proportionate security measures for each and every event or situation. We’ve implemented a range of initiatives since the Manchester Arena attack and continue to evaluate and revise our security procedures.
“Visitors and organisers can be assured that safety is our highest priority and we actively undertake overt and more discrete activities based on the nature of the event we are hosting. Everyone is responsible for venue security and we’ll continue to ensure that all employees and venue staff understand the role that they can play.”
Aldworth, who was chief superintendent of the Metropolitan Police during the 2017 attacks, commented: “I think there are definitely some places that could have benefitted from some infrastructure. One of the things I was told after one of the attacks by a survivor… she was in a restaurant and nobody knew what to do.”
Describing some venues as “reckless and negligent”, he has claimed that the introduction of Martyn’s Law could, in some cases, prevent attacks and certainly decrease the impact of such occurrences.
Iain Moran, sales and marketing director at ATG Access, said it is “heartening” to see the government listen to demands on tighter security: “Although event organisers are starting to take security much more seriously following a string of devastating terror attacks, standards still vary wildly from event to event.”
Figen Murray, Martyn Hett’s mother, initiated the campaign for Martyn’s Law last year with a petition that has, so far, received over 23,000 signatures.
She told the BBC that she didn’t believe the country has to become “Barrier Britain”, with stringent security at every public door: “It could just be people trained in recognising suspicious behaviour – it can be as basic as that.”
Hinds added: “I’d actually flip it on its head and look at it as a business opportunity and say, ‘well, actually, if we can demonstrate that we’re putting the appropriate measures in place to ensure the security of the visitors, the venue, the employees, then actually that’s a good thing’.”
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