Slow progress in some areas after Manchester Arena attack inquiry, chairman says

Sir John Saunders said it is important recommendations from public inquiries are not forgotten.

Progress has been slow on some recommendations made after the terror bombing of the Manchester Arena, the chairman of the public inquiry into the attack has said.

Sir John Saunders highlighted two areas of concern for large venues, that of provision of emergency care and the operation of CCTV.

Twenty-two people were murdered and hundreds more injured in a suicide attack at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 2017.

Sir John, in an open letter released to the media headed “General Observations”, said the work of the inquiry is almost at an end, but it was important the recommendations he suggested were implemented amid the “on-going problem” that action is taken and advice not forgotten following public inquiries.

Evidence into the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the atrocity was heard in the city between September 7 2020 and February 15 2022, having called 291 witnesses and considered 172,000 pages of documents.

The inquiry last month held a series of public hearings to monitor how Sir John’s recommendations were being followed by various organisations.

On Tuesday, Sir John’s letter said: “Arising out of the recent monitoring hearings there are some areas where it seems that progress has been slow, or recommendations have been rejected.

“The important area of ensuring that there is proper provision of medical care at large arenas does not seem to have got any further forward despite the concerns and representations of the Care Quality Commission.

“I do not regard this as satisfactory and recommend that urgent action is taken to rectify a situation that we were told was causing loss of life.”

Sir John also said his recommendation that all CCTV operators, whether in-house or contractors, be trained and licensed by regulators the Security Industry Authority (SIA) has not been supported by the Government.

Sir John Saunders
Sir John Saunders highlighted two areas of concern for large venues (PA)

Currently only those who are recruited externally by a business to do this need a licence, while those who are recruited internally do not.

He added: “The Government has not implemented it because it is said to be ‘over-regulation’.

“It seems that decision has been made without any consultation with the industry.

“It is difficult to see why there should be this distinction in training requirements and I would ask the Government to think again.”

The first report, Volume One, was issued in June 2021 and highlighted a string of “missed opportunities” to identify suicide bomber Salman Abedi as a threat before he walked across the City Room foyer and detonated his shrapnel-laden device.

His second report delivered scathing criticism into the emergency services’ response to the bombing and Volume Three published in March said the attack might have been prevented if MI5 had acted on key intelligence received in the months before the bombing.

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