‘Crit­i­cal’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion is­sues over arena at­tack

MANCH­ESTER: Re­view finds fail­ings in the emer­gency re­sponse to bomb­ing

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS - ELEANOR BAR­LOW

A re­view into the re­sponse to the Manch­ester Arena bomb­ing has found there were “crit­i­cal” is­sues with com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween emer­gency ser­vices.

A progress re­port into the re­view, car­ried out by an in­de­pen­dent panel led by Lord Bob Ker­slake and ap­pointed by Mayor of Greater Manch­ester Andy Burn­ham, was pub­lished yes­ter­day.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence, Lord Ker­slake said: “There were is­sues about com­mu­ni­ca­tions which were crit­i­cal, both be­tween the dif­fer­ent ser­vices and be­tween the ser­vices and the pub­lic.”

He added: “Cer­tainly things didn’t go in the way peo­ple would have wanted to, that’s clear, along­side things that went well.”

But, he said the prepa­ra­tions for an at­tack in Manch­ester had been sig­nif­i­cant and there was a “pow­er­ful civic re­sponse” to the at­tack, in which sui­cide bomber Sal­man Abedi left 22 dead and hun­dreds in­jured when he det­o­nated his de­vice at the end of an Ari­ana Grande con­cert on May 22.

Lord Ker­slake said the panel had a “bet­ter un­der­stand­ing” of why there was a de­lay in the fire ser­vice en­ter­ing the build­ing on the night, but said he would not com­ment fur­ther un­til the full re­port was pub­lished in March.

The panel has spo­ken to the be­reaved and in­jured, emer­gency ser­vices, NHS, lo­cal coun­cils and around 170 peo­ple, in­clud­ing young peo­ple at the con­cert on the night of the at­tack.

The in­terim re­port rec­om­mends pub­lic bod­ies in Greater Manch­ester adopt a “char­ter for fam­i­lies be­reaved through pub­lic tragedy” that was in­spired by the Hills­bor­ough fam­i­lies and pro­posed by the Right Rev James Jones KBE in his re­port pub­lished in Novem­ber, en­ti­tled “The pa­tro­n­is­ing dis­po­si­tion of un­ac­count­able power”.

The char­ter asks or­gan­i­sa­tions to com­mit to learn­ing lessons from Hills­bor­ough to en­sure the per­spec­tive of be­reaved fam­i­lies is not lost in any fu­ture pub­lic tragedies.

Mr Burn­ham said he did not be­lieve any of the pub­lic bod­ies in­volved were hold­ing in­for­ma­tion back but said: “It’s about get­ting off on the right foot.”

He added: “I think Bishop James Jones’s re­port was in­cred­i­bly pow­er­ful on this point, that what hap­pened 30 or so years ago there are echoes of it still to­day. We have seen that pos­si­bil­ity with Gren­fell.

Mr Burn­ham said the re­view had found much of the me­dia re­port­ing of the at­tack was re­spon­si­ble but there were “in­stances of be­hav­iour that was not ac­cept­able” in terms of con­tact with be­reaved fam­i­lies and im­ages which were dis­trib­uted.

Greater Manch­ester Po­lice Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins wel­comed the progress re­port and said the force sup­ported the in­quiry.

Pic­ture: PA.

Crowds look at flo­ral tributes af­ter a minute’s si­lence in St Ann’s Square, Manch­ester, to re­mem­ber the vic­tims of the ter­ror at­tack.

Pic­ture: PA.

Emer­gency ser­vices at Manch­ester Arena af­ter the ex­plo­sion dur­ing an Ari­ana Grande con­cert.

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