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Call for event security review

A national review of event security is called for by the elected Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham. The former Labour cabinet minister supports the principle of “Martyn’s Law” – a campaign started by Figen Murray, mother of Manchester 2017 suicide bombing victim Martyn Hett, which calls for metal detectors and bag searches at large-scale public venues.

Burnham has published a 70-page 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 May 2017 attack to assess the emergency services’ response on the night.

In a foreword Burnham notes: “The Manchester attack (at the end of an event) and the Paris attack (in the middle of an event), whilst very different in nature, may indicate that there can be no assumptions about whether the risk of an attack is higher at the start, during or at the end of an event.”

Burnham asks for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to review security at major sporting and entertainment venues. He sums up: “I am proud of how everyone in Greater Manchester responded but I know that we have more to learn from this horrific event and we will do all we can to strengthen even further our emergency response and the resilience of our communities.”

Written by former head of the Civil Service, Lord Bob Kerslake, and a panel, the report commissioned by Burnham as Police and Crime Commissioner, praised much the emergency services’ response, but also made recommendations to help improve response to similar incidents.

On event security Burnham said: “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.”

Burnham sees significant progress in all areas, notably:

Clarification of command roles and responsibilities within Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, alongside a major transformation to ensure the service is fit for the future. It took two hours to deploy on the night.

Greater Manchester Police enhancing its senior officer capacity and resilience during major incidents

North West Ambulance Service procuring more 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, 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 again.

The Aucso annual conference for UK university security managers at Aston University earlier this month featured the third edition of a resilience guide for higher education institutions, which drew on recent events including the Manchester attack, including longer-term welfare of survivors.

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 covers the media which Lord Kerslake singled out for criticism in his 2018 Review; also picked up by Dr Lucy Easthope in her talk to Aucso about the resilience guide she authored. More in the May 2019 print issue of Professional Security magazine.

A year ago, families’ experiences of press and media intrusion in the days after 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 since committed to relevant training for journalists and compiling guidance for editors and reporters.

Burnham 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.”

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police’s Specialist Operation Branch – responsible for armed policing in the city – says it will be providing more officers on patrols of high profile venues and events over the summer, as at the Christmas Markets in the city centre.

Picture by Mark Rowe; winter morning, search queue fencing and shelter outside Manchester Arena.


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