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Arena Inquiry first report: comments

The Security Industry Authority is committed to working with the private security industry, law enforcement and other partners in a robust way to make sure the learning from the Manchester Arena Inquiry’s findings is taken forward, SIA interim chief Michelle Russell has said in a statement as a response to the Inquiry’s first report.

She said: “We will continue our follow-up engagement with those involved, study carefully the recommendations published today, and consider any further steps we need to take. Where there are recommendations about extending the SIA’s role or the legislation on the regulatory regime for private security, we will liaise closely with the Home Office on these.”

One of the most startling findings in the first report by the Manchester Arena Inquiry, into the security at the venue around the May 2017 suicide terror attack, is just how important it is to guard against complacency amongst security staff when it comes to the potential for terrorist activity, says Iain Moran, pictured, director at ATG Access, the bollard and barrier manufacturer.

He says: “The number of ‘missed opportunities’ highlighted really underlines the crucial role that police, security staff, and other employees play in the prevention of devastating events such as these.

“However, it’s also clear that there were failings in the physical security measures at the Arena too, with poorly planned perimeter security and CCTV blind spots making it harder for those involved to identify and apprehend the attacker.

“This emphasises the need for a holistic approach to security, where carefully implemented and maintained physical security solutions are in place that make it possible for security professionals to do their job as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“However, while we have long been advocates for much tighter regulations around event security procedures, and hope that any new legislation will make the roles and responsibilities of venues and event organisers much clearer, we absolutely agree with the report’s assertion that ‘the Protect Duty must not be so prescriptive as to prevent people enjoying a normal life.’

“Security measures should be visible enough to offer reassurance to event-goers and serve as a deterrent to would-be attackers, but we must avoid creating a fortress mentality as it’s essential that people feel free to enjoy themselves.

“While it remains to be seen what the new Protect Duty will entail, we hope that this report will serve as a wakeup call for those involved in the security of events, large and small. Regardless of our legal responsibilities, we must remember that we have a moral duty to keep the public as safe as we possibly can.”

Paul Mason, Managing Director of the Safety and Security Division at Air Partner, which includes Redline Assured Security, pointed to the Inquiry finding that it’s “highly likely” more lives could have been saved and that “more should have been done.”

He said: “The ability for employees and trained staff to recognise suspicious behaviour and act continues to be a key consideration in most post-incident inquiries, and as large gatherings and events are increasingly allowed as Covid-19 restrictions loosen, security staff need to be equipped to mitigate the risks of the changing nature of threats. Through behavioural detection training, observation skills are sharpened as well as the ability to judge when observations need to be escalated.

“Front line personnel need to ask themselves: When looking at a crowd of people would you be able to identify a person acting suspiciously? And how could you confirm this without them knowing? Would you be able to assess the reason for their suspicious actions? Is this potentially a life-threatening situation or is a teenager carrying a small amount of cannabis in his/her backpack?

“Another key element of behavioural detection is the observation of an individual’s response to stress. Visible security measures, such as uniformed security staff and the deployment of conspicuous observers, can induce stressed behaviour which trained personnel will be able to spot.

“Reinforcing the importance of trusting instincts through training is also crucial to a security-positive culture where personnel are encouraged to escalate their observations to managers or the police. Behavioural detection training can be offered to various degrees of depth, from instilling awareness and understanding of behaviour detection and when to escalate, to live training on the early detection of potential threats with the integration of CCTV, and teaching managers how to manage situations with the police.

“No matter which level of training security personnel undertake, a key element is for all levels of responsibility to act with commitment and confidence. High-quality training generates the greater commitment of individuals to act with competence and confidence, forming a key driver of a cohesive security eco-system. There can never be too many people trained in behavioural detection to identify potential risks to lives.”

The BSIA has made a statement: it’s on the association’s website.

Police statements

In a statement, British Transport Police (BTP) Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi said that the force was carefully reviewing the findings outlined in Volume One of the Manchester Arena Inquiry report.

“I would like to reassure everyone that British Transport Police, as you would expect, has been reviewing procedures, operational planning and training since this dreadful attack took place in 2017. We continue to work closely with our emergency service colleagues, Greater Manchester Police and other experts to strengthen our multi-agency preparedness for major incidents. We are committed to ensuring our staff are supported and prepared to undertake the roles they are required to do.

“We will never forget that 22 people tragically lost their lives following the truly evil actions of the attacker and many received life changing injuries . They continue to be at the forefront of our thoughts as are their loved ones and all those affected by this dreadful attack.”

And for Greater Manchester Police – which with BTP did overlapping policing of the City Room outside the Arena, where the suicide bomb was detonated – GMP Chief Constable Stephen Watson said that GMP has sought to support the Manchester Arena Inquiry and its evidence gathering throughout. “We have already identified and made many positive improvements to the service we provide as evidence has been heard and this work continues.

“As an organisation, we will always do our utmost to keep the people of Greater Manchester safe so any opportunity for us to improve our ability to do so is one that we will strongly embrace.

“We will now need some time to reflect on the report in detail and carefully consider the recommendations that have been made. We will also continue to closely support the Public Inquiry for the remaining chapters and, as they have been from the very start, our thoughts today remain with all those whose lives were devastated by this horrible attack.”


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