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Nearly a year after the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, Mayor calls for better security at major venues

Posted on 18th April 2019 at 16:58pm

UK: The Mayor of Greater Manchester has called on the Government to initiate a national review of event security, following calls from families of the victims of the Manchester Arena attack to enhance security at major venues.

Andy Burnham supports the principle of ‘Martyn’s Law’ – a campaign started by Figen Murray, mother of Arena victim Martyn Hett, which calls for enhanced security checks at large-scale public venues.

The Mayor made the call as he published a progress report into how agencies have been working to further improve their readiness to respond to major incidents. It finds that all agencies have made progress towards implementing the Kerslake Report, set up after the Arena attack to assess the emergency services’ response on the night of the terrorist outrage.

Written by former head of the Civil Service, Lord Bob Kerslake, and a panel of experts, the report praised many aspects of the emergency services’ response, but also made a range of recommendations to help improve that response to future incidents of a similar type.  

One year later, and there is significant progress in all areas, notably:

  • Clarification of command roles and responsibilities within Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, alongside a major transformation programme to ensure the service is fit for the future
  • Greater Manchester Police enhancing its senior officer capacity and resilience during major incidents
  • North West Ambulance Service procuring additional stretchers for response vehicles to assist in casualty evacuation, alongside creating dedicated incident notification channels
  • Mental Health Trusts throughout the city-region developing a joint response plan, currently with Trust Boards for final approval, to improve provision of mental health services to support adults and children who experience trauma
  • A guarantee to Government by Vodafone that the failure of the National Mutual Aid Telephony system, which hampered the timely activation of the Casualty Bureau on the night of the attack, will not happen in future

The Mayor said: “While we are proud of the way Greater Manchester responded, it was right to take an honest look at what happened.  I am now confident that, thanks to the Kerslake Report and the follow-on work we have done over the last year, we are even stronger going forward. 

“But one gap that does remain is around the wider security considerations at events.  At present, security arrangements are essentially voluntary and this can lead to confusion and variation.  I believe there is a clear case for a thorough review of security measures at major sporting and entertainment event venues to establish clearly understood mandatory standards and I call on the Government to initiate one. 

“We need to have clear minimum and mandatory standards at all venues so there is clarity for operators, and confidence for the public. Figen Murray has rightly highlighted this issue and her call for a change to the law needs to be taken seriously by the Government.”

Beverley Hughes, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, added: “This important update shows encouraging progress in all areas. Clearly, there is still much work to do but that’s only to be expected due to the thoroughness of the report. The crucial thing is that it is evident that in all areas where Lord Kerslake called for improvement, those improvements have either happened or are under way.

“We will continue to monitor closely the progress of all Lord Kerslake’s recommendations to ensure they are implemented in full.

“My hope is that our systems of improvement become a gold-standard on an international level, assisting other agencies across the country and beyond when preparing for and training to respond to any future incidents of a similar nature.”

The progress report also highlights the steps the media are taking after Lord Kerslake singled the industry out for criticism in the 2018 Review.

A year ago, families’ experiences of press and media intrusion in the days following the attack resulted in a number of recommendations, specifically that the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) review the operation of its code of practice – Ipso has subsequently committed to relevant training for journalists and compiling guidance for editors and reporters.

Andy added: “I welcome the steps taken by Ipso and am grateful for their acknowledgement of the issues raised by the Kerslake Report.  However, I remain unconvinced that they go far enough to prevent a repeat of what happened and would call on them to keep this issue under review.  As I have said before, there was much responsible reporting, particularly from our regional media, but it is clear that the industry as a whole still has issues to address.”

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