The Government’s new Terrorism Bill imposes over-the-top requirements on churches, village halls, cricket clubs and other local venues to carry out ‘risk assessments’ and force volunteers to undergo anti-terrorism training. As with many well-intentioned ‘something must be done’ measures, the cure could end up being worse than the disease, says Andrew Tettenborn in the Spectator.
All premises with a capacity of 100 or more are covered if regularly used for almost any non-domestic purpose whatsoever. That includes business, religion, amusement, sport and study.
This needs to give you pause. Most churches of any size can seat more than 100 – so too can many libraries, museums, art galleries and university lecture halls. So too, for that matter, can numerous church and village halls, not to mention local football or cricket clubs throughout the kingdom, assuming that they have over 100 seats for fans.
The fact that many such institutions are run on a shoestring by volunteers, entirely uncommercially and as a service to one’s fellow man, does not matter. Nor, it seems, is it relevant that most of the time the actual number attending is closer to 20 than 100, as in the case of many churches. All are included.
The duties on these places, while less onerous, would still be substantial. Every single such place faces compulsory registration; a legal requirement to produce a detailed ‘standard terrorism evaluation’ and a need to give compulsory ‘terrorism protection training’ to every single person, volunteer or otherwise, who works there. Any breach of these duties could see an order land from a civil servant to put matters right or an immediate fixed penalty of up to £10,000.
If none but a tiny handful of these premises will ever experience terrorism, this sounds like a very big sledge-hammer being used to crack a very small nut. …
If you are thinking of stepping up, it’s hard to see a better way to discourage you than demanding that you sit in a draughty hall to be compulsorily ‘trained’ in anti-terrorism techniques you face an infinitesimal chance of ever having to use. And if the volunteers can’t manage, the fee of a few hundred to have the paperwork professionally seen to might, in many cases, be more than the institution can afford.
Worth reading in full.