Po­lice urged to con­sider im­pact of bomb ar­rests

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By NEAL KEELING

THE gov­ern­ment re­port that has re­vealed never-be­fore-heard de­tails of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Manch­ester Arena bomb has urged po­lice to ‘re­flect’ on the ‘com­mu­nity im­pact’ of the case.

Max Hill QC, in the an­nual re­view of how counter-ter­ror­ism leg­is­la­tion is used in Bri­tain, looked at the first 17 days of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the atroc­ity on May 22 last year, co­de­named Op­er­a­tion Man­te­line.

The au­thor said good polic­ing needed ‘real ef­forts’ to work with com­mu­ni­ties – and warned that ‘blame­less res­i­dents’ will have been ‘in­con­ve­nienced if not trau­ma­tised by the reg­u­lar ap­pear­ance of po­lice search and ar­rest teams on their street or in their home.’

In re­sponse to the rec­om­men­da­tion, GMP have in­sisted they were sen­si­tive to the po­ten­tial im­pact on Manch­ester’s Mus­lim com­mu­nity af­ter their mas­sive in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the Arena bomb­ing.

The re­port re­vealed 23 peo­ple were ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of ter­ror­ism of­fences in the wake of the bomb. All were re­leased with­out charge.

How­ever, GMP Chief Con­sta­ble Ian Hop­kins said there is ‘clear ev­i­dence’ for bomber Sal­man Abedi’s brother – 21-year-old Hashem Abedi – to face crim­i­nal charges. He is cur­rently be­ing held in Libya and an at­tempt to ex­tra­dite him is on­go­ing. The Max Hill re­port re­veals that a 35-year-old woman, known as Sub­ject G, re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion af­ter she was wrong­fully ar­rested two days af­ter the at­tack which killed 22 peo­ple and in­jured 119 more.

The woman was res­i­dent at a Manch­ester ad­dress next door to a lo­ca­tion that was ‘sig­nif­i­cant’ to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion when she was ar­rested, but it was es­tab­lished she was not in­volved. Her home was searched.

Mr Hill said: “She has re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion fol­low­ing the ar­rest, be­cause the po­lice ac­cepted the ar­rest was in ef­fect col­lat­eral dam­age: she was in the wrong place and the wrong time.”

He added: “Po­lice should con­sider and re­flect upon the com­mu­nity im­pact of a large-scale in­ves­ti­ga­tion, cen­tring as it did on par­tic­u­lar ar­eas of Manch­ester with a large Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion. Good com­mu­nity polic­ing, as well as good counter-ter­ror­ism polic­ing, de­mands that real ef­forts are made to work within and with lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties, where many blame­less res­i­dents will have been in­con­ve­nienced if not trau­ma­tised by the reg­u­lar ap­pear­ance of po­lice search and ar­rest teams on their street or in their home.”

Mr Hill con­ceded that the probe was ‘dy­namic and ur­gent in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing mul­ti­ple premises’ adding, ‘there were le­git­i­mate pub­lic safety is­sues; Jtac [Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­tre] had in­creased the na­tional threat level to crit­i­cal in the days af­ter the at­tack.’

“How­ever, it is im­por­tant to avoid the col­lat­eral dam­age Sub­ject G ex­pe­ri­enced and this has been ac­cepted as a learn­ing out­come for SIOs [se­nior in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers] and po­lice teams in fu­ture.”

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Robert Potts said: “We wel­come the Max Hill re­port and are pleased that Mr Hill recog­nised the scale and com­plex­ity of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion whilst com­mend­ing the wider polic­ing net­work’s abil­ity to work to­gether to meet this chal­lenge.”

Po­lice ar­rested 23 peo­ple in the wake of the bomb. All were re­leased with­out charge

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