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Protecting customers – a new protect duty

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By Alison Key


Published 03 November 2022


Alison Key, Head of Commercial Real Estate at international law firm DAC Beachcroft, considers proposed new measures being taken to provide enhanced protection to the public from terrorist attacks. This article first appeared in Realm’s Inside Outlets in Summer 2022.

“We are currently dealing with a suspicious package” is an announcement that strikes a multi-faceted emotional response in retail centre managers. I know how seriously our asset management clients take the threat of a terrorist attack. Much-anticipated draft legislation will enable owners and operators, among others, to give their customers greater assurance that everything possible has been done to protect them in the event of such an incident.

The draft Protect Duty Bill is currently awaited and it will be crucial to consider how terrorist attacks and publicly accessible locations are defined. Owners and managers of retail and leisure venues will need to review their current measures and consider enhanced security plans and personnel, procedures to react and respond to different threats, training and refresher courses for staff.

The proposals arose as a result of the Westminster and London Bridge attacks and the Manchester Arena bombing. The aim is to create an enhanced culture of security, with a consistency of application and a greater certainty of effect. The current proposal is that it will apply to publicly accessible venues with a capacity of 100 persons or more and large organisations employing 250 staff or more that operate at publicly accessible locations. This could include organisations with a number of outlets below the 100 persons venue capacity, across a wide geographical footprint.

Duncan Strachan, insurance partner at DAC Beachcroft, advises: “Owners and operators may be concerned about premiums and policy coverage as a result of this, but improvements made to security are likely to have wider benefits, potentially reducing crime and anti-social behaviour and consequently reducing insurance exposure.”