Night Time Industries Association CEO and chair of the UK Door Security Association Michael Kill welcomes the proposed Protect Duty legislation but calls for an approach that takes into account the needs of smaller, independent, events and venue businesses

Our industry takes its role in protecting our staff and customers extremely seriously and we have proactively engaged with government departments throughout the Protect Duty consultation.

It’s been a challenging year for the sector, with the implementation of changing public health mitigations, and now under new regulations presented by the Home Secretary, the industry will be asked to put together contingency plans for potential terror threats within venues and events.

Without doubt, there have been challenges around the consistency of public safety measures and the priority of these measures in the past, and the current Protect Duty model will go a long way to ensure there are appropriate considerations given within businesses across our sector.

Larger clubs, events and festivals, that work with large crowds within the public domain, will address the challenges as part of their planning process, working closely with police and local authorities on counter-terror measures, which will complement much of the proposed regulations.

But there will be challenges for smaller businesses, a fear that further regulation will place smaller businesses into untenable positions. Some of this fear is around not having a full understanding of the expectation or support that will be given, especially when you look back at the implementation of GDPR regulations and the issues flagged by SME businesses in ensuring they were compliant. These businesses will need a considerable level of support from government and local authorities as they assess the risk and plan accordingly.

While we focus on public safety, there are some concerns from the sector, particularly smaller independent businesses, on the cost of implementing measures. It is no secret that debt levels across the sector have reached considerable levels, and while we quite rightly attempt to increase awareness and measures to safeguard the public, businesses are also in survival mode.

The industry recognises its role in enhancing front line security but as a sector we are extremely fragile, between cost inflation, legacy debt and impending policy change, there is a continual nervousness about change.

The expectations from individual businesses have been discussed on many levels but we will only understand the true picture through the initial stages of engagement and putting processes into practice. The interpretation by regulators at operator level will, without doubt, bring about some challenges, as it has done with new regulations or policy in the past.

There are also some wider industry concerns, in particular the lack of licensed security personnel which will be a fundamental requirement in the implementation of this Duty.

As we move into the busier periods of 2022, there will be further pressures placed on the industry as a whole, with the festival and event seasons getting back to pre-pandemic levels we are very aware of the potential limitations in security resources. This will potentially have an impact on the effective implementation of this duty at peak season.

Collectively, we are moving towards a safer, more professional industry, which is vitally important to protect all of our futures and the safety of our patrons, but we must ensure that we prepare and support this sector wholeheartedly, and recognise the challenges from a support role, not a role of administration and enforcement.

It is vitally important that the Government, police and local authorities work closely with businesses throughout this process, particularly independents, but also consider some of the inherent challenges from the pandemic.