The UK government has published a 204-page public inquiry into security lapses during the 2017 Manchester Arena Bombing, Billboard reports and Pitchfork can confirm. The attack occurred on May 22 during a sold-out Ariana Grande concert at Manchester’s AO Arena, killing 22 people and injuring over 800. Many of the victims were children. According to the probe, “there were a number of missed opportunities to alter the course of what happened that night.”
The public inquiry, which was chaired by Sir John Saunders, began last September, marking the first of three reports. The findings state that arena operators SMG, security company Showsec, and the British Transport Police “are principally responsible for the missed opportunities” regarding security.
The report states that suicide bomber Salman Abedi should have been identified as a potential threat the night of the concert, pointing to at least three instances of Abdedi’s “hostile reconnaissance” that security did not detect. “There existed the opportunity for SMG to make hostile reconnaissance more difficult for [Abedi] during events by pushing out the security perimeter of the security operation,” the document states. “This could have been a missed opportunity, depending on how the new security perimeter operated.” The report also points out that on the night of the attack, the UK’s terror threat level was severe.
The inquiry notes moments where security guards were unable to communicate with the security control room after a member of the public voiced concerns. Elsewhere, the inquiry points to “SMG’s inadequate CCTV system” with regards to a particular blind spot. “Had the Blind Spot been eliminated either by increased CCTV or by patrols, [Abedi’s] activity would have been identified,” the report states. There is also scrutiny of overly-long breaks that were taken by on-duty officers.
The report includes a list of recommended actions to improve concert security, and outlines steps that AO Arena has already taken in that direction. The venue intends to extend the security perimeter around the venue, and install walk-through metal detectors.
Toward the end of the document, Saunders acknowledges his “admiration for those who responded so selflessly and heroically to this atrocity.”
Less than two weeks after the 2017 attack, Ariana Grande held and performed at a benefit concert titled “One Love Manchester” featuring Pharrell, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and more. Proceeds from the event went to an emergency fund set up by the city of Manchester and the British Red Cross.