Protect Duty legislation and how it will affect your business

Why Businesses need to be aware of Terrorism

At Romero Insurance Brokers our mission is to look out for large commercial and SME businesses. We are reviewing a range of emerging and evolving risks, and are able to understand how these risks impact your industry.

One of the biggest changes to legislation in the UK’s history is about to hit British businesses, having worldwide implication. Hence, our attention has been drawn to monitoring the evolution of terrorism and its impact.

We investigate the origins of insurance around terrorism, how the nature of attacks have changed, and what the new legislation stipulates and what it means for venues.

The Origin of Modern Terrorism

Guy Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot is probably the most infamous historical terrorism event, but the first instance of modern terrorism can be accredited to the 1980 IRA bombings. The attacks targeted property, infrastructure and business operations. The use of IEDS and vehicle bombs led to a high level of physical destruction.

Political and religious extremism has evolved modern terrorism to become more unpredictable and indiscriminate. Targets are less defined, broader, and mitigating against threats is proving more difficult. Attacks are somewhat improvised, with local public transport, large businesses and infrastructure the new anticipated targets. The 7/7 bombings in 2005 caused devastation, as did the 2017 Borough Market attack and the Manchester arena bombing.

Modern terrorism now seemingly requires less forethought and instead acts to cause as much public disquiet and anxiety, targeting citizens rather than infrastructure. Individuals do not require financial backing in order to carry out an attack that could cause significant hysteria. The unpredictable nature of attacks means it’s difficult for the authorities to know when or where an attack will happen. The current national threat level of the UK is SUBSTANTIAL, signifying the high likelihood of a terrorism event. Therefore, businesses need to be aware of the signs of potential attacks and how to counter them.

The forms of terror attacks are now much broader, and so too are the methods of countering them. More sophisticated attacks are being seen, such as cyber attacks, drone usage and chemical weapon attacks. This further contributes to how unpredictable attacks can be; businesses must continue to be vigilant while the government act against terrorism through investment in new areas beyond that of intelligence and law enforcement.

Addressing the Key Failings

The 2017 Manchester Arena bombing shocked the world and set in motion a series of events which has led to one of the biggest legislative changes to policing terrorism in decades. Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett, one of the 22 victims, demanded legislation to compel publicly accessible locations to conduct basic security activities.

Investigation into the attack and the movements of the lone attacker showed what more could have been done to possibly prevent the terror event. CCTV footage showed repeated suspicious behaviour, prompting an enquiry into how more responsibility should be placed onto public locations for their awareness, safety and security.

Volume 1 of the Manchester Arena Enquiry reported many missed opportunities and a systematic risk management failure on the part of the venue. The key failings which the report illustrates include; insufficiently trained personnel, inadequate risk assessments, unsecure security perimeter, complacency, and ‘grey-spaces’ (space where there is a lack of clarity over ownership and therefore responsibility for protection).

These failings have been the focal point of the development of plans put into law around the specific responsibilities of venues and businesses. These laws, introduced late 2022, will help to prevent future terror attacks. This piece of legislation is called ‘Protect Duty’.

What is Protect Duty ?

Protect Duty is the biggest counter-terrorism shift, putting counter-terrorism responsibilities upon 650,000 UK businesses. This duty to protect will fall on any business that can accommodate a number of people – these include commercial businesses, construction companies, manufacturing facilities and retail outlets. Businesses with over 250 staff that operate at publicly accessible locations now find themselves with increased responsibility.

Adhering to these responsibilities will be through training and risk assessments. Cultural security improvements include education around scenarios and security breaches as well as moving to irradicate complacency. Mandatory physical updates would involve bollards, intruder detection technology, CCTV correctly and tactically placed, as well as extra secure entrances.

Statistical reports and considerations around Protect Duty have been provided by the government.

However, the biggest challenge will be the grey-spaces – the shared responsibility spaces. New legislation dictates that every business that uses the space will have a responsibility over its security. Whilst this increases vigilance, it requires cooperation. Whilst this increases vigilance, it also creates logistical difficulties that venues should start to think about sooner rather than later, beginning to build relationships to help mitigate this shared risk.

What can you do to protect against terrorism?

The first steps should involve discussing actions with neighboring businesses, assess individual risks, and identify practicable protective measures. In this way, counterterrorism becomes closer to a holistic system rather than a tick-box exercise.

The key areas that have been noted within government guidance are; remaining aware of the present likelihood of attacks, what type of attacks may occur, identifying and rectifying the weak spots of your venue or the hidden areas, and creating a tangible plan to monitor your business’s risks. Implementing measures, both physical and cultural, is advised and will help to bolster defences.

The final plan on how the government will police the new legislation is still yet to be finalized. But similarities to the health and safety legislation would suggest that both civil and legal prosecution would hold businesses to account. Inspections on a venue’s preparedness could lead to fines, with owners and business directors personally at risk of persecution should there be serious failings or neglect. Businesses must take these new responsibilities seriously.


At Romero Insurance Brokers, we hope to be releasing a Protect Duty toolkit once more information around the legislation are released. This toolkit will include helpful advice as well as things to look out for. We will send out a bulletin including answers to your most frequently asked questions.

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