What Martyn’s Law means for the future safety of the UK 

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Disclaimer: this article contains distressing details of the Manchester Arena Attack

Currently, The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre and the Security Service (MI5) have set the national threat level in the UK as substantial, meaning that there is a high likelihood of another terrorist attack in the future. In the past decade alone, the UK has felt the devastation of numerous acts of terror, such as the Westminster Attack and the Manchester Arena Attack of 2017; and whilst these have caused tremors of fear and uncertainty regarding our nation’s safety, such attacks have catalysed the need for improvements to our national security’s mitigation and response strategies. For instance, there has been emergence of independent charities dedicated to raising funds for future disasters, such as the National Emergencies Trust, which was launched in 2019 by the Royal Patron, Prince William.

The Manchester Arena public inquiry has revealed the faults and slackening of the security at the time and emphasises the improvements the UK desperately need.

Whilst our government has a duty of care and has successfully stopped 40 terror attacks since 2017, the threat still broods in the country’s subconscious. Hence, for the past several years, Figen Murray has been ushering the introduction of a new legislation that would instate enhanced security measures in public places across the UK. This bill, Martyn’s Law, is named after her son Martyn Hett, 29, who was killed at the Manchester Arena Attack in 2017, alongside 21 other innocent people. 

Depending on the relative size of the venue, this law will instate astute regulations to mitigate the effects of a future attack which include mandatory security outside of venues, counter-terrorism training by venue staff (involving an awareness of designated escape routes), strict risk assessments of the premises and usage of electronic security, such as metal detectors. These simple steps alone would have prevented the tragic attack that robbed her son’s life, which was, from my own memory, certainly bereft of strict security. The Manchester Arena public inquiry has revealed the faults and slackening of the security at the time and emphasises the improvements the UK desperately need. Shockingly, one of the “significant failures” that the chairman of the inquiry Sir John Saunders disclosed was how two police officers drove away from their standing, on the night of the attack, for a two-hour kebab break. For survivors and the bereaved, this negligence of safety measures is debilitating and unforgivable. 

Whilst the Prime Minister has previously assured that he would get the bill passed “as soon as he can”, Ms Murray had shown an admirable defiance and strength in a letter addressed to him, stating that it has been almost “seven years since my son was murdered, we still await the introduction of this law.”

Ms Murray has spoken about how the introduction of Martyn’s Law will enable venues a greater preparedness and protection for future acts of terror, especially in light of the recent terror attack on Moscow’s Crocus City Hall in March 2024, which killed 145 people. Speaking recently in April to BBC Breakfast regarding the delays of the Bill’s implementation, she fears that “families will suffer in the way we have suffered” if an attack was to occur without her proposed security enhancements. She laments that she “doesn’t want other people like me with their child’s ashes on a bookshelf at home.” Whilst the law was a part of the Conservative manifesto in 2019, mentioned in the Government’s legislative programme during the King’s Speech in November 2023, and is supported by Rishi Sunak, Ms Murray has only been given a litany of promises that, whilst bolstering the bill’s momentum, have yet to be fulfilled. 

Whilst the Prime Minister has previously assured that he would get the bill passed “as soon as he can”, Ms Murray had shown an admirable defiance and strength in a letter addressed to him, stating that it has been almost “seven years since my son was murdered, we still await the introduction of this law.” Hand in hand with friends, family, and supporters, one can only hope that Ms Murray’s campaign will be a successful one that will bring a needed change to national security measures, and that the post-General Election Prime Minister will uphold the previously made promise.

Image: David Dixon via Wikimedia Commons

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