On 22 May 2017, my life changed forever. My son, Martyn, was 29 years old at the time and looking forward to seeing Ariana Grande in concert at the Manchester Arena.
Soon after 10.30pm that night we heard the news that an explosion had taken place at the Manchester Arena. Martyn was among the 22 lives that would never return home that night due to a terrorist attack.
The news of his death shook our family to the core. He was such a pillar in our lives and his kindness and generosity had touched so many people. I can never fully process why the attackers would want to take away the precious life of my son along with those of all the other victims.
The inquiry into the bombing is now underway.
Last year I came face to face with the bomber’s brother as he was sentenced to 55 years in prison at the Old Bailey.
I am now in the final stages of completing my masters in counterterrorism, and the consultation for Martyn’s Law is moving ahead. This new proposed legislation I hope will keep even more people safe at public venues.
Martyn’s Law would apply to any place or space to which the public have access. For small venues this may require just minimal measures to be changed or added, e.g. a better back entrance lock or identifying a safe exit route for customers and staff in the event of an attack. Bigger venues with a greater footfall will require a more holistic approach. Martyn’s Law aims to be proportionate and would consists of 5 requirements for publicly accessible locations:
- Staff to be given free online training
- Vulnerability assessments should be conducted inside and outside the venue
- Mitigation of the risks identified during vulnerability assessments should be undertaken
- A counter-terrorism action plan should be put in place
- Local authorities should be required to plan for the threat of terrorism
The consultation ends 2nd July 2021 when it will be evaluated by the government in terms of both qualitative and quantitative analysis. This will take some time and hopefully will proceed to the next stage before becoming a reality to keep us all much safer in the future.
Of course we must always remember that the decision by an individual to engage in a terrorist act caused this atrocity – but we can always look for ways to make it more difficult for those who make the decision to act in this way.
Figen Murray is a peace campaigner and speaker at tomorrow’s Victims of Terrorism Conference, hosted by Edge Hill University. Click here for more information and to register.