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UK public ‘totally security blind’, warns mother of Manchester Arena bomb victim

Figen Murray wants metal detectors and bag searches to be obligatory for big public venues.

Manchester Arena (Peter Byrne/PA)
Manchester Arena (Peter Byrne/PA)

The mother of a victim of the Manchester Arena bombing has called for a review of security measures at major venues.

Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, 29, called for the introduction of “Martyn’s Law” to make metal detectors and bag searches mandatory for big public venues.

She called for the review with the support of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham at the launch of a progress report looking at the response to the incident.

Twenty-two people died when suicide bomber Salman Abedi, 22, detonated a device in the foyer of the arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 2017.

Ms Murray said: “I really, really strongly believe that if we pay money for tickets, sometimes really expensive tickets, the least we can expect is that the event organisers keep us safe.

“Just like when you board a plane we have security checks, we pay for that amongst the ticket prices. It should go without saying.

I'm astounded... over the UK, the public seem to be totally security blind Figen Murray

“Up and down the country I’ve had lots and lots of people responding and telling me tales of really good practices and where I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s amazing’, so it can be done; and then I’ve got examples of really bad practices and it really, really worries me.

“I’m astounded, particularly in Manchester, but all over the UK, the public seem to be totally security blind.

“They send their children, go themselves to football events, whatever, and they don’t give a thought to their own security, they just go in and enjoy themselves.

“That’s what Martyn did and the others did and look what happened. It just took one individual to destroy 22 families’ lives for good.”

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Martyn Hett (Greater Manchester Police/PA)

Asked whether she thought security at Manchester Arena at the time of the bombing was adequate, she replied: “I’m not talking about the arena because I think that’s a matter for the inquest.”

Mr 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.”

The 68-page report details some of the actions taken since the publication of the Kerslake Report last year, by former head of the Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake, which assessed the emergency response to the 2017 attack.

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Lord Kerslake (Victoria Jones/PA)

However, it emerged almost two years after the bombing that in the event of a marauding terrorist attack involving guns, as the arena attack was initially thought to be, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) would be unable to fully respond.

Instead an agreement is in place where fire crews from Liverpool, 30 miles away, would provide cover through Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.

The interim report says a dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and Fire and Rescue Service employers in Greater Manchester means the fire service locally is unable to provide the specialist teams that would ordinarily respond to a marauding terrorist attack.

The report calls on GMFRS to work with the Home Office to find a solution.

Andy Dark, assistant general secretary of the The Fire Brigades Union, said: “Response to these kinds of events is not within a firefighter’s contract.

“This is recognised by the Welsh and Scottish assemblies, but the Westminster Government is wrongly attempting to argue otherwise.

“Entering an area where an armed terrorist may be on the loose is a huge risk, for which firefighters are not currently trained, equipped, or compensated.

“We cannot and will not agree to permanently enshrine terrorism-response into a firefighter’s role unless it is done safely and fairly.

“Every firefighter in the country needs to be trained and equipped for these attacks, as international experience has shown that they can happen anywhere.”

Security minister Ben Wallace said:  “Our thoughts remain with the victims of the attacks in Manchester and elsewhere in 2017 and we are determined to regularly review our security measures as our utmost priority is protecting our citizens.

“Last June we published a strengthened version of the UK’s comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, which reflects the findings of a fundamental review of all aspects of counter-terrorism, to ensure we have the best response to the heightened threat in coming years.

“I am grateful for the work Andy has done in helping shape and improve the people of Manchester’s security.

“The Government has already put many of the lessons learnt from 2017 in place and we are open to suggestions on what more we can all do to protect this country from terrorism.”

PA

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