Whilst we do not know exactly when the Bill will come into force this year, it is important that schools start to prepare for it.
The Protect Duty requires organisations to focus on reducing vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks in public spaces and events, emphasizing a proactive approach to threat assessment and prevention.
In practice, this is likely to require schools to review arrangements for ensuring the safety of pupils, staff, and visitors through enhanced security risk assessment and training, with an emphasis on those risks posed by terrorism.
It is distinct from the Prevent Duty, the aim of which is to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorists.
The Bill seeks to address and mitigate the risks of terrorist activity at, or in the immediate vicinity of, publicly accessible premises or events.
It introduces new anti-terrorism duties for the controllers of premises and events where a substantial number of the public (more than 100) may have access to land or facilities.
It will apply to:
The Bill proposes a two-tiered approach to publicly accessible events and premises: Standard and Enhanced. The tiered approach categorises venues and events based on size and significance.
The Bill requires in scope premises to be registered with and events notified to a newly established regulator. This new regulator will have enforcement powers, including issuing fines for non-compliance.
The fines differ according to tier, but could be substantial. Early indications are that standard tier fines could be up to £10,000 and enhanced up to £18 million or 5% of an organisation's worldwide revenue. Individuals can be prosecuted and can face imprisonment.
The Bill is not yet in force, and further guidance and detail is awaited as to exactly how it will apply to school events and premises in practice.
However, schools should already be thinking about this type of incident as part of critical incident planning and preparedness under the existing compliance framework.
And in order to prepare for the Bill's implementation, schools should be now be thinking about: