Manchester Arena inquiry LIVE

CCTV ‘blind spot’ at the Arena ‘has been addresses’, says expert

Mr Simpson added: “You could actually reassess the risk for one event three or four times before the event itself – and it’s important we do that. “That’s then subject to an audit process. “It’s been in track since 2019.”

“At the moment, with there being a severe threat level, you can’t have a low risk event in our business.” The inquiry is told GMP now take ‘primacy’ over policing at the Arena over BTP. The chairman, in his report, said there was insufficient liaison between SMG and police, Mr Simpson says that’s changed.

He says he’s met with police and is comfortable with the arrangements in place. SMG’s risk assessments ‘drive’ policing operations at an event at the Arena, he says, adding SMG has a good and ongoing relationship with the police. “Not every venue has the same level of policing cooperation than Manchester Arena does,” he says.

On security patrols, a new digital system called HALO has been introduced. It’s an ‘incident management command and control system’ where staff are instructed to complete tasks via mobile devices. Staff are told what checks and tasks they need to do – and they are monitored and recorded.

The location of staff when they carry out tasks is also mapped, so checks can be made that the tasks are being carried out in the right locations. The HALO system also addresses ‘suspicious activity’, the inquiry is told. “It has helped us managed the process, but it’s not the only thing.”

He says there’s been 24 new ‘procedures and emergency plans’ – and the vast majority relate to counter-terrorism. “If you see somebody suspicious now, you report it now. “All organisations are more on top of suspicious individuals.”

He says training and briefing has been improved and is always changing. The inquiry heard there was a CCTV blind spot where bomber Abedi hid before he carried out the attack. He says the blind spot has been ‘addressed’ – and the City Room is now a ‘sterile area’ on event days.

“Only people who are ticket holders going to the venue can go in there.”

He says it’s ‘not the reality’ that all venues can have 100 per cent coverage, but new cameras have been installed at the Arena.

In areas not covered, Mr Simpson says it’s important to recognise that and use other mitigating security measures.

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