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Should venue owners be charged with a legal duty for counterterrorism measures? 

New laws could force large venues in the UK to adopt increased security measures in response to the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017. Security minister Ben Wallace said that the government is considering “whether and how further legislation could support, or indeed compel, effective and proportionate protective security” for concerts, shopping centres and sporting events. This could include increasing the use of safety checks, such as bag searches and body scanners. It might also require venue owners to take counterterrorism advice, conduct vulnerability assessments and put a plan in place to mitigate any susceptibilities.

The government had initially said that it had no plans to mandate specific security measures, despite a campaign by the mother of one of the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing enjoying popular support online.

There is currently no legislation compelling venues to implement counterterrorism measures beyond standard health and safety legislation. Senior police officials are said to be supportive of creating a legal duty for venue owners. Former chief superintendent Nick Aldworth, who led the “protect and prepare” stand of national counterterror policing until May 2019, compared the issue of fire safety, noting that venue owners are expected to take responsibility for preventing fires rather than relying entirely on the emergency services. Taking the same approach to terrorism would share the burden and increase security, Aldworth argues.

There is currently no timeline for the proposed legislation, but it is unlikely that any changes would be introduced before the conclusion of the inquest into the Manchester Arena bombing which is due to begin in April 2020.
What’s your view – should venue owners be charged with a legal duty for counterterrorism measures?

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