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The Protect Duty - are you prepared?

on Thursday, 01 February 2024.

The Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, or so called Protect Duty, was mentioned by King Charles III in his 2023 King's Speech, meaning that it is on the Government's to-do list for the next session.

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.

How will it affect schools?

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:

  • Qualifying public events: (including temporary events) such as Prize Giving or an Open Day that have a defined boundary to which the public, or a section of the public, have access
  • Qualifying public premises: either a building or a public space (which will include groups of buildings used for the same purposes, e.g. a collection of buildings in one location)

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.

  • Standard tier: this covers events with a capacity of 100-800
  • Enhanced tier: this is designed for larger venues and events with a capacity of 801+. It introduces additional duties

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.

What should schools do now?

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:

  • Undertaking a terrorism risk assessment. Schools can find a draft standard terrorism evaluation published by the Home office
  • Implementing appropriate control measures, such as security audits and crisis and emergency plan
  • Staff training
  • Engaging with security experts. Schools can contact Counter Terrorism Policing for free security advice specific to their setting
  • Discussing with insurers and brokers any potential changes in relation to insurance

For more information please contact Nikki Miller in our Education team on 0117 314 5423 or Natalie Wargent in our Regulatory Compliance team on 0117 314 5433. Alternatively please complete the form below.

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