Written evidence submitted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (TER0054)
The Sport and Recreation Alliance
The Sport and Recreation Alliance is the umbrella body for the national and representative bodies of sport and recreation. We have over 300 members drawn from across the sector including national governing bodies of sport and recreation (NGBs), national and regional associations, Active Partnerships, sport for development charities, outdoor recreation and movement and dance bodies. Our membership is diverse and delivers everything from traditional sport to outdoor recreation, movement, dance and physical activity.
Our role is to bring together the sport and recreation sector and support our members to tackle the challenges and take advantage of opportunities. We are the voice of the sector with Government, policy makers and the media. We help get the nation active at the grassroots by providing advice, support and guidance.
1.1 The Sport and Recreation Alliance welcomes the opportunity to respond to this Call for Evidence on the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Draft Bill. The draft legislation is an important milestone in ensuring the safety and security of people in publicly accessible locations and reducing the risk of terrorist incidents, such as the Manchester Arena attack.
1.2 Sports bodies and event organisers take their safety and security responsibilities seriously and are committed to ensuring their venues and events are as safe as possible. It is therefore important that any new requirements, whether applied to stadiums and major events or grassroots community sports clubs and facilities, are proportionate to the risk and do not result in unintended consequences. In the submission below we outline a number of areas for consideration in the development of the legislation.
1.3 We would encourage the Committee to consider this submission alongside those of our individual members who will be able to provide further detail on issues specific to their individual sports and activities.
- Key points
2.1 Before addressing specific elements of the draft Bill, we would make the following key points:
- As drafted, the Bill will potentially bring a large proportion of the estimated 20,000 facility-owning grassroots community sports clubs within scope and we believe a substantial number of these could fall under the enhanced duty. While we understand the intention is for proportionality in the creation of these new duties, the legislation is nonetheless likely to place significant additional burdens on grassroots volunteer-run organisations at a time when they are already stretched by COVID-19 recovery and cost of living pressures and where the risk of terrorist attack is low. In this context we are keen to explore with Government whether there could be some form of exemption for these types of premises from the requirements in the Bill given the low level of risk.
- The Bill lacks detail in key areas and further clarification is needed to properly assess the full implications of the legislation. The methodology for calculating capacity – which is essential to understanding the scale and nature of premises which may fall within scope and their specific duties – is not specified and is left to regulations to be made by the Secretary of State. In addition, key elements of the Bill require further clarification to understand the precise impact on sport and recreation. These include the definition of ‘publicly accessible’ in relation to qualifying premises, the definition of a ‘relevant worker’ and the operation of provisions relating to person(s) responsible for a qualifying premises or event. We are also concerned that the lack of clarity will be exploited by third parties seeking to advise grassroots community sport and recreation organisations on how to comply with their duties under the legislation.
- The Bill could have a chilling effect on sport and recreation and the associated benefits it brings. We are concerned that the additional compliance burdens will lead to a reduction in the provision of sport and recreation participation opportunities and events. This in turn, will undermine efforts to get more people participating in sport and recreation and to maximise the attendant benefits this brings in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, economic development and community cohesion. In particular we are concerned that facilities owned or operated by local authorities will be unable to absorb the associated costs and will seek to recover these from users, adding a further barrier to participation.
- The Bill appears to place new duties on venue and event operators in areas which are beyond their direct control. The proposed duty to implement mitigation measures ‘in the immediate vicinity of’ a premises or event is insufficiently clear and would seem to create an obligation on venue and event operators to take action beyond the physical boundary of their premises or event in areas over which they may have no jurisdiction. Similarly, as currently drafted, event organisers would appear to be obliged to assume responsibility for the safety and security of an entire event, even where this may involve a route encompassing public roads, waterways or similar. In both cases we believe the Bill’s provisions require careful review and clarification to avoid unintended outcomes.
- Additional safeguards are needed to ensure appropriate consultation with affected sectors. We believe the Bill should include a clear requirement for Government and the regulator to consult with the sport and recreation sector on the guidance and exercise of the regulator’s functions referred to in s36 and s37, prior to publication.
- It is important the legislation does not duplicate or contradict the existing sports ground safety regime which establishes clear requirements on venues to assess and manage risk – including the risk of terrorism – and clear oversight roles for the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and local authorities.
- Further clarity is required as to how the regulator will be funded and the penalties it imposes must be proportionate. The Bill refers to further regulations specifying how costs will be recovered but we believe there should be more clarity at this point in the Bill’s passage on whether this will involve the levying of fees on those subject to the requirements and, if so, how any such fees would be arrived at. We further believe that the penalties the regulator can impose must be proportionate and, in the case of grassroots community organisations, take into account the ability to pay.
- Primary responsibility for public safety and security lies with the police and other relevant agencies. Whilst event organisers and venue operators recognise and take seriously their responsibilities for the safety and security of their participants and attendees, we are concerned the Bill could have the effect of shifting the balance of responsibility for public safety and security which we believe properly rests with police, intelligence services and other relevant agencies.
- Application to grassroots community sport and recreation
3.1 Grassroots community sport and recreation organisations are an essential part our social fabric, providing participation opportunities to millions of people across the country. Participation in sport and recreation offers significant benefits to physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as delivering on other key national policy priorities such as economic development, educational attainment, crime and community cohesion.
3.2 Grassroots sport and recreation is delivered in a wide variety of locations including sports clubs, community sport and leisure facilities, parks and the natural environment and multi-use sites. Most of this activity is delivered by a volunteer workforce which is already under pressure following the COVID-19 pandemic and now the cost of living crisis. Research by the Alliance shows that grassroots community clubs have seen their financial position deteriorate following the pandemic whilst at the same time facing steeply rising costs and growing pressures on volunteers. Further, recent research from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) found that overall volunteering numbers across society have declined significantly since the pandemic with the proportion of the UK population who organise or help run activities falling by 52% from 14% in 2019/20 to 7% in 2021/22.
3.3 We are therefore concerned that the legislation will place further significant administrative burdens on volunteers and potentially divert scarce resources away from the provision of participation opportunities. We believe the risk of terrorism at grassroots community sports clubs and facilities is low and as such the requirements must be proportionate and balanced against broader Government policy objectives to increase participation in sport and recreation and reduce inequalities.
3.4 Against this background we would make the following specific points:
- As currently drafted, the Bill’s scope is broad and could encompass as many as 20,000 facility-owning grassroots community sports clubs as well as many other community sport and leisure facilities. A large proportion of these premises may fall under the enhanced duty which would bring with it significant additional requirements including the need appoint a designated officer, undertake an enhanced terrorism risk assessment, provide terrorism training, develop a security plan and implement measures to reduce the risk of terrorist attack and related harm. Given these grassroots community premises are typically volunteer-run and have a low level of risk, we believe the potential for some form of exemption from the requirements should be explored further.
- The lack of certainty over the method for calculating public capacity makes it difficult to assess with certainty the scale and nature of premises which might fall under the standard or enhanced duties. While s6 enables the Secretary of State to prescribe the how this will be done through regulations, we would welcome some indication of the likely approach as soon as possible.
- Clarification of which elements of a premises will count towards the calculation of public capacity would also be helpful. Facility-owning grassroots sports clubs often have a mixed facility which might typically comprise a clubhouse as well as playing pitches and car parking. In some cases, clubs may have physical access to a natural feature e.g. a lake for their sport or activity. In these circumstances we believe it would be preferable to use the physical building as the basis for the capacity calculation and disregard the wider site grounds and/or any related natural feature.
- We would welcome the further clarification regarding the definition of ‘publicly accessible’ as set out in s2. A significant number of grassroots sports clubs are private members clubs with the use of premises primarily restricted to club members but also, on occasion, guests of members and visitors (e.g. away teams, other competitors). In this context it is not immediately clear whether this type of premises would be considered publicly accessible for the purposes of the legislation.
- We believe further clarification of the practical application of s5 and s18 would be helpful. An organisation may hire, rent or lease a venue that would be regarded as a qualifying premises on a variety of different terms. In this context, the questions as to who is responsible for the venue or event and who has control (and related liability) are important. s18 indicates a person responsible for premises may give another person a ‘cooperation notice’, however it is not clear what form this must take or whether hire, rental or lease terms and conditions could be used to transfer responsibility for any requirements under the legislation.
- s9 and s10 confirm that the registration and notification processes will be prescribed in secondary legislation. It is essential that these processes, especially for those in the standard tier, are made as simple and accessible as possible as they will fall primarily to volunteers who may have limited knowledge or understanding of the detailed requirements.
- With regard to the requirements to undertake a standard terrorism evaluation (s11), we believe a more proportionate approach would be for evaluations to be reviewed every 3 years in the absence of any material change.
- We would welcome greater clarity in relation to s13 and the provisions regarding ‘relevant workers’. As drafted, this would potentially require a large number of volunteers at grassroots level in a wide range of roles to undertake training with associated administrative and financial costs. We believe s13(2)(b) could be more specific in identifying which types of roles and responsibilities are most likely to require training.
- We have concerns over the scope of s15 (1)(a) and (b) which introduces a duty to put in place security measures ‘in the immediate vicinity of’ a premises or event. We believe this would place a duty on premises operators to take action beyond the physical boundary of their premises and in areas over which they may have no jurisdiction.
- Application to elite/professional sport
4.1 At the elite/professional level, most sports grounds already operate according to a well-established safety regulatory framework which is set out in statute and overseen by the SGSA and local authorities. This regime is specifically tailored to sport and ensures high standards of safety and security by requiring venue operators to undertake appropriate risk assessments and put in place detailed safety and security plans, including measures to address the risks associated with terrorism.
4.2 Against this background we would make the following points:
- We would encourage Government to ensure that any requirements established in this legislation are closely aligned with the requirements established under the existing sports ground safety regime. To reduce the likelihood of any unnecessary duplication or confusion, we believe consideration could be given to enabling relevant venue operators to be able to discharge their duties in the Bill through the existing sports ground safety arrangements. However, we recognise this would require further consultation with relevant sector stakeholders.
- As above, we are concerned at the scope of s15 (1)(a) and (b) which introduces a duty to put in place risk-mitigation measures ‘in the immediate vicinity of’ a premises or event. We believe this would place a duty on premises operators to take action beyond the physical boundary of their premises and in areas over which they may have no jurisdiction.
- We are also concerned that the Bill would appear to make organisers of qualifying public events liable for the safety and security of the entire event course, even where this might encompass many miles of public roads, waterways or similar. A significant number of elite and mass participation running and cycling events would meet the tests set out at s4(1) and (2) as would, for example, events such as major regattas which typically have ticketed areas for spectators and extend over long stretches of open river. We do not believe this would be reasonable and would therefore welcome further review and clarification of the relevant Bill provisions.
- In the sporting context, premises owners often hire out the whole of the venue for an event and retain no control. If the premises are qualifying public premises, our understanding is the owner would still be liable for security, training etc. even though they would not be providing any of the personnel related to the event. A similar set of circumstances arises at community grassroots level where premises or land may be hired out for sporting events or activities with no control retained by the owner. As above, we do not believe this to be reasonable and would welcome further review and clarification of this aspect of the Bill.
- Large sporting venues and events rely on significant numbers of casual and temporary staff to provide safety and stewarding as well as catering and hospitality. These staff may be supplied through contracts with agencies at short notice on an ‘as required’ basis. In this context, it may not be possible operationally or financially for venue operators to ensure all relevant workers are provided terrorism training. As above, we would therefore welcome further specificity in relation to the definition of ‘relevant worker’ to help identify which types of roles and responsibilities are most likely to require training. In addition, we believe consideration could be given enabling firms supplying event staff to venues to demonstrate those staff meet the relevant requirements for terrorism training.
- We are concerned that the Bill will make information which must be submitted to the regulator – such as security plans – subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. We do not believe the existing exemptions at s23 and s24 of the 2000 Act offer any assistance and would therefore encourage a review of this position to ensure that potentially sensitive material is adequately protected.