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Councils must receive full funding for role in implementing new 'Protect Duty'

If the Government introduces the proposed new ‘Protect Duty', local authorities will require significant resource and capacity to ensure that those within its scope are aware of their responsibilities and comply, the Local Government Association (LGA) has said.

It was responding to the Government’s Protect Duty consultation findings, which Home Secretary Priti Patel is to consider.

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said introduction of the new duty "must be supported by full funding and time to allow for communication, preparation, guidance and training, and recruitment of specialised staff before implementation can begin. It is also vital that measures to increase security sit alongside continued investment in prevention programmes that stop people being drawn into terrorism.”

Cllr Caliskan said a risk-based approach would be needed so that any new duty did not allow terrorism to disrupt normal life.

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Among respondents, 70% said those responsible for publicly accessible locations should take appropriate and proportionate measures to protect the public from attacks.

Most felt venue capacity should determine when the duty applied, while “very strong views were expressed regarding the need for accountability, such as the need for clear roles and responsibilities, particularly amongst event organisers, and those at senior level within venues and organisations”.

In other answers given, local authorities were considered the leading organisation to bring together security partnerships, receiving three times as many nominations as the emergency services.

One question sought views on a legislative requirement for local authorities to develop plans to combat terrorism and ensure public safety.

This was opposed by 41% of respondents and supported by 35%, with the rest giving no opinion.

The Home Office said the Protect Duty has been championed by victims’ groups that arose following loss of life in terrorism incidents, such as Manchester Arena attack in 2017.

It said its consultation gained 2,755 responses “with the majority supporting the government’s proposals to introduce stronger measures, including a legal requirement for some public places to ensure preparedness for and protection from terrorist attacks”.

Ms Patel said: “We will never allow terrorists to restrict our freedoms and way of life, which is why we are committed to bringing forward legislation this year, that will strike the right balance between public safety, whilst not placing excessive burden on small businesses.”

Mark Smulian

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