Andy Burnham calls for mandatory security at major public venues

Nearly two years after arena bombing, Greater Manchester mayor urges thorough review

The mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for mandatory security checks at public venues almost two years after the Manchester Arena attack.

The former Labour MP said he was concerned security procedures at major sports and entertainment events were sometimes non-existent and essentially voluntary, leading to “confusion and variation”.

Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, who died in the arena bombing, has called for a change in the law to make bag checks or metal detectors mandatory at all big venues.

Burnham said: “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’s intervention came almost two years after the suicide bombing that killed 22 people and injured hundreds more at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on 22 May 2017.

Figen Murray.
Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, who was killed in the Manchester Arena attack. Photograph: Sky news

The mayor said he backed the principle of a “Martyn’s law”, which would enshrine in law enhanced security checks at all large-scale public venues.

A petition launched by Murray has amassed nearly 14,000 signatories so far and her campaign has been backed by the families of other Manchester Arena victims.

“From the response I’ve had to the petition already, it’s clear that up and down the country security checks are very inconsistent,” she said earlier this year.

“Some venues do have metal detectors and some do conduct bag searches, but so many establishments appear to have no official safety procedures in place.”

The government has said that while it provided advice to venues on appropriate and proportionate security measures, there were “no plans to mandate specific security measures”.

On Thursday, Burnham published an update on the recommendations from Bob Kerslake last May in a report which was highly critical of Greater Manchester fire and rescue service’s response to the atrocity.

Manchester Arena.
File photo dated 23 May 2017 of emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Lord Kerslake’s report found the fire service played “no meaningful role” in the aftermath of the bombing because it arrived two hours late and later followed protocol “too rigidly”, to the anger of many frontline firefighters who were eager to help.

The updated report said the fire service had carried out a “root-and-branch review” and taken steps to clarify command roles and responsibilities, including carrying out training alongside other blue-light services.

Vodafone had also given guarantees to government that the “catastrophic failure” of its emergency phone system would not happen again, the update said.

The National Mutual Aid Telephony system failed on the night of the attack, causing significant upset to families who were reduced to a frantic search of hospitals to find information on their loved ones.


Josh Halliday North of England correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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