An integrated response from emergency services to the Manchester Arena bombing ‘did not work overall’
Scott Wilson, a former senior Metropolitan Police detective and counterterrorism commander, said some joint work was taking place in the City Room Blast Zone after the blast between Greater Manchester Police, the British Transport Police and the Ambulance Service.
But he said JESIP’s main goals – the Joint Emergency Services Interactivity Principle, which emergency services should operate in the event of a major accident – unfortunately did not work overnight.
“Overall, it didn’t work at all,” Mr Wilson said. During the evidence in the inquiry on Wednesday..
The principles of “coordination” were not enforced through the emergency services at the arena, he said.
“We need to make sure it’s embedded,” said Mr Wilson, one of three independent police experts appointed by the inquiry to assess the police force’s response at night.
“We don’t think it’s fully embedded within the GMP or the BTP.
“All we needed that night was a tactical commander to come to grips with it and make sure the JESIP principles were embedded.
“If it had happened at night, we would have considered it one of our major failures …
Experts have written a total of four reports that run to about 1,000 pages.
Mr Wilson found in his report that there was “no clear coherent and coherent response” from the GMP at night, said Paul Granny QC, the inquiry’s lawyer.
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The expert also found a lack of direct command and operational confusion as a result of communication breakdowns between different commanders, the QC said.
“There was a lack of awareness of what was happening and what was happening,” the inquiry heard.
As a result, the inquiry was told, “there was no clear organizational assessment of the risks.”
Mr Granny said each organization was “working independently of each other” and the GMP was “working slowly from the inside out”.
Mr Wilson agreed that together, they represented “a major setback in the GMP response” – a failure he said could extend to other emergency services at night.
Police experts say the GMP did not learn from the failures in a counter-terrorism training exercise held a year before the Arena attack. The inquiry heard that several failures were repeated on the night of the bombing.
Mr Wilson agreed that this was a “significant failure” on the part of the force.
The expert witness agreed that “one of the big things that went wrong” was not seen by the emergency services commanders together.
Mr Wilson said it was a major setback.
“If those three emergency services had come together, there would have been a much bigger deal tonight than how they are going from there.”
He said there was a difference of opinion between the emergency services about the “meeting place” because “they were not talking to each other”.
“People who should have talked to each other were not talking to each other.
“I think it would have been much better if they had been together in RVP.”
The inquiry said that the emergency services had selected three different RVPs at night.
The experts said they found a “differentiation of risk perception, or approach to risk assessment” between emergency services.
The GMP had a “site-specific plan” for the arena in the event of a major incident, but expert Ian Dickinson said it was “old”.
He said that there are many projects but added: “Our collective view is that if these projects are given space, function and used as they were intended, we are sure that the response to this emergency … That would be ideal, because the plans were good and appropriate. “
Expert Ian Searle said that experts agreed with the announcement of ‘Operation Plato’ – the appropriate response to the terrorist firearms attack – was correct at night.
But the inquiry has heard that the statement was not communicated to the fire and ambulance services and the BTP.
Dale Sexton – the GMP’s force duty officer who made the announcement – said he deliberately withheld the announcement because he feared it could result in responders who Were assisting the killings in the city room.
Asked about the issue, Mr Searle agreed that he did not believe it would be “reasonable” for Mr Sexton not to make it public.
“That should be one of the first things you do,” he said.
The inquiry found that experts agreed that little thought had been given to “zoning” the night after Operation Plato was announced.
By 10.50pm, Mr Granny said, armed officers had secured the city room and considered it safe in terms of an ‘active shooter’, although the possibility of a secondary device could not be ruled out.
Experts were asked which zone, in their opinion, should have been a city room at that time.
Mr Searle said he agreed it could be a ‘cold zone’, meaning that unskilled respondents would be allowed to enter and treat the injured.
Only three paramedics went to the city room as the dead and injured were evacuated to the crash site and the fire service did not reach the scene until two hours after the blast.
Neither the fire nor the ambulance service force duty officer could reach Mr Sexton, at his point of contact, to find out what was happening when he became ‘swamped’ and did not answer the phone line, the inquiry said. Have heard
At the initial hearing of the inquiry, GMP Deputy Chief Constable Ian Paling apologized for the force’s failure that night.
He agreed that the lack of information sharing at the scene in the first hour of the response was “unacceptable”.
On May 22, 2017, 22 people were killed and 940 injured in a suicide bombing by terrorist Salman Abidi. The inquiry is ongoing.