Many local authorities in the UK have set aside no budget assigned to the pending “Protect Duty” regulations.
The startling revelations emerged after requests made under freedom of information rules to councils.
A study by Heald, makers of hostile vehicle mitigation systems, showed that only seven authorities had spent or intended to spend money on the new rules.
Protect Duty is the planned government legislation aimed to give protection to the UK’s public spaces against terrorist attacks.
The new legislation will require additional security measures and perimeter protection for public venues, organisations, and spaces.
Yet only one council, Southend in Essex, has set aside a large sum to be spent on measures designed to protect the public in the face of growing terrorist threat. It has allocated more than £2m.
But Heald’s insights provide a very different picture and has highlighted the issue as the country prepares for Christmas with outdoor events such as markets, which are usually run by local authorities.
The company sent out Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) sent to 426 UK councils. But, of those, contacted, 125 councils failed to respond, and 29 refused to provide the information.
The councils which have a budgetary allocation are:
- Southend-on-Sea Council – £2,271,145.13
- Bath & North East Somerset Council – £782,000
- Salford City Council – £94,618
- Coventry City Council – £20,000
- London Borough of Greenwich – £1,094
- Darlington Borough Council – £1,000*
- Orkney Islands Council – £1,000^
Other authorities, such as Maidstone Borough Council in Kent, Luton Borough Council or the London Borough of Wandsworth, simply did not respond.
A Heald statement said: “Following a number of terror attacks on Christmas markets in recent years, unprotected locations continue to pose a threat to the public, and with Christmas market prep being well underway, councils need to consider risk mitigation and attendee safety.”
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Heald Managing Director, Debbie Heald MBE comments: “With Christmas markets attracting hundreds and thousands of public members each winter, and this being the first year without Covid restrictions, it’s vital that such spaces are secured in order to maximise attendance to ensure these types of events continue year after year.”
At Christmas events, safety measures usually include pre-event planning with emergency services, increased police presence and a focus on barrier system installations⁴. However, the lack of assigned budget to the ‘Protect Duty’ legislation suggests that most councils will need to implement significant security mitigation ahead of the new guidelines.
The total value for all seven councils that have currently spent or assigned budget to the legislation is £3,170,857. Heald can reveal that Southend-on-Sea council is the most prepared for the upcoming legislation having assigned a budget of £2,271,145.13 to implement measures.
237 UK councils confirmed they have zero budget currently allocated to the upcoming legislation and will not assign a budget until the new law is confirmed by the government and clearer guidelines are shared.
Debbie adds: “The new ‘Protect Duty’ legislation has been in the pipeline for quite some time now and has been discussed in parliament on numerous occasions.
“It’s surprising to see how few councils have started to plan for the pending measures.
“It’s concerning that so few councils are planning to implement these measures unless it becomes law. It should be a public duty to protect our citizens.
“Protect Duty will have a big impact on councils and the work that needs to be done in many towns and cities, so planning ahead and looking at what measures can and should be implemented to keep individuals safe is essential.”
In December 2021 Heald worked with German distribution partner, truckBloc to install its sliding bollard, the Matador in Mainz, Germany in the wake of a number of attacks on German markets, including the Berlin Christmas market attack in 2016. Further installs are in the pipeline this year.