My Son Martyn Hett Died At The Hands Of Terrorism – It's Time We Made Public Safety A Matter Of Law

I can never escape my nightmare but I don’t want this to happen to any other family unnecessarily. That's why I'm calling for Martyn's Law.

Sitting in a restaurant with friends on New Year’s Eve, my phone lit up with a newsflash about the stabbing of three people at Victoria Station in Manchester.

The rest of the meal became an exercise in, by now, very well-rehearsed composure, yet everything inside me was in a state of full alert.

I was acutely aware the incident happened just 200 metres or so from where my son, Martyn, and 21 others lost their lives 19 months ago in the Manchester Arena terror attack.

When I received the news alert on New Year’s, I was not aware the incident was being investigated as a terror attack. But it did make me think about how things have changed in recent years.

The stabbings in London, the many terrorist attacks in 2017, the shootings in the States, terrorist attacks in other countries. As news stories unfold about yet another major incident, another stabbing, another shooting and other horrendous events, I can’t help but think that as a society we could do something about all of this, or at least be doing more.

Martyn’s death has made me so much more aware about safety and I have become far more vigilant about my surroundings. This is of course partly due to the fact that I suffered PTSD-like symptoms as a result of my horrendous bereavement. Put simply, Martyn’s death put safety on my agenda when I go out and about, which just wasn’t there before.

I am ashamed to say that before he died I was one of those people who watched news stories with images of distraught families after a tragedy and I would think “poor people”, before changing channels. To be totally honest, part of me was always uncomfortable watching people visibly in distress, but another part of me always felt outrage at the cruelty of human beings and I chose not to continue watching. Switching channels was the obvious choice for me. I became the monkey that did not want to see, hear or speak of it.

Two weeks ago, I started a government petition calling for increased public safety measures to be enshrined in law under Martyn’s Law. My husband and I had recently attended a concert in one of the theatres in Greater Manchester. I foolishly made the assumption that all major venues now have proper security checks in place since the Manchester Arena attack. To my shock and surprise, we walked into the building and nothing was checked, not even our ticket. Needless to say I felt on edge during the entire performance.

My petition calls for metal detectors and bag searches to be obligatory for big public venues. I urge larger venues to offer these security measures as a way to reassure their customers that they will be safe while visiting their events.

There are three main reasons why the petition is so important to me.

Firstly, I hope that in the future the general public will put more thought into their safety when visiting venues and take charge of their own protection by demanding better safety measures.

Secondly, I want to make event organisers think about public safety. Even if it doesn’t become an official law, they could implement Martyn’s Law as a policy as a goodwill gesture to their customers.

Thirdly, any would-be terrorist may think twice before attacking a venue with bag searches and metal detectors. It would hopefully serve as a massive deterrent.

I am saddened that there seems to be a public safety blindness in most people. So many of us – me included, before Martyn died – attend concerts, go to the theatre, visit comedy shows and museums without giving our safety a second thought.

Martyn, and the 21 other unfortunate people who died at the Manchester Arena, no doubt felt the same. They went to have a good time and safety was not even on their radar. They sadly paid with their lives. It took one person to walk in with a rucksack on his back to end their lives and change ours forever.

Sadly, I can never escape my nightmare, however, I don’t want this to happen to any other family unnecessarily. I ask for simple inexpensive measures to be put in place to keep the public more safe.

What happened at Victoria Station on New Year’s Eve could have been avoided had there been some police presence in the inner city. I hear you say that this may be costly, but my answer would be: “What cost do you place on a human life”?

I remember when community police officers used to walk the streets. They got to know their community and were able to identify problems in the area and, often, dealt with these before they became an issue. I also remember endless cinema trips with my children when they were young where our bags were searched to make sure we didn’t bring in our own sweets and drinks to the venue. What irony that such checks and police presence were totally accepted by all of us as a normal way of life.

It’s time we all just pause for a moment and think of our safety. What Martyn’s Law is asking for is common sense.


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