GMP lacked ‘organisational level’ awareness of Grande concert
An inquiry into the 2017 terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena has heard that Greater Manchester Police was not aware ‘at an organisational level’ of the Ariana Grande concert.
British Transport Police (BTP) had primary responsibility for policing in the arena foyer due to the proximity of Victoria Station, so, according to Paul Greaney QC, the inquiry must consider whether that affected preparedness for any terror attack.
The counsel to the inquiry said that there is a ‘legitimate question’ whether it was appropriate that BTP, who specialise in the railways, should have taken the lead.
The second day of the hearing has been told that there had been multi-agency exercises rehearsing for a terror attack, including one in 2016 for an incident at the Trafford Centre. However, Greaney said experts have expressed ‘serious concerns’ about whether the necessary lessons were learned from it.
Another exercise, held in July 2016, rehearsed for an attack in the City Room at the arena - the exact scene of the attack in May 2017. The inquiry is seeking to establish whether BTP took part in that exercise.
Salman Abedi killed 22 people when 14,000 fans left the Manchester Arena in May 2017, injuring hundreds more. Within 10 minutes of the bomb exploding, 12 BTP officers had run into the arena foyer carrying first aid. The inquiry has heard that there was only one paramedic in the City Room for the 40 minutes following the explosion, entering 18 minutes after the blast.
Greaney said that ‘we must probe deeply but fairly into the emergency response that night’.
Sir John Saunders, the chairman of the inquiry, will make a report and recommendations once all the evidence has been heard. It is expected to take up to six months.
Hashem Abedi was recently found guilty of helping his older sibling to plan the atrocity, and was jailed for at least 55 years on 20 August for the 22 murders.