Manchester Arena bombing: Six police officers under investigation - after inquiry reveals mistakes were made

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An inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017 has revealed a ‘failing of emergency services’, pointing out six key police officers for their mistakes.

Six police officers are being investigated for their response to the Manchester Arena attack. Following an inquiry into the bombing, findings were revealed during a hearing on Friday (November 4).

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will carry out a probe into two Greater Manchester Police officers, while an internal review will be conducted of four members of the British Transport Police by the same watchdog. Some of those under investigation had previously received honours and further recognition for their efforts during the attack.

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On May 22, 2017, Salmen Abedi entered the Manchester Arena and detonated a device, killing himself and 22 other people, as well as injuring almost 1,000 members of the public. The incident took place following an Ariana Grande concert attended by around 20,000 people, many of whom were children.

During the inquiry Andrew Roussos, the father of the attack’s youngest victim, eight-year-old  Saffie-Rose Roussos, slammed the efforts of emergency services. He said they should have “sleepless nights” as experts revealed his daughter could have survived if she received a quicker response.

A number of commanders who oversaw the bombing were the focus of the investigation. Here is everything you need to know.

Who are the police officers and what mistakes did they make during the Manchester Arena attack?

One of the two Great Manchester Police officers at the centre of the inquiry was Inspector Dale Sexton, the Force Duty Officer (FCD) on the night of the attack. He had previously been awarded a Queen’s Policing Medal in 2018, which was presented the following year by Prince William.

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High Court judge Sir John Saunders criticised Mr Sexton for his failing to share information with other emergency services, including that the foyer, the location of the device’s detonation and where wounded and dying victims were found, was safe within 19 minutes. The judge said the delay had a detrimental influence on the “unduly cautious” ambulance service, which only sent three paramedics to treat casualties.

The inquiry revealed that the FCD was insufficiently trained in terrorist incident procedures which led to Mr Sexton becoming “overwhelmed”. He did not declare the attack a major incident until 1am, two hours and 29 minutes after the explosion. There was also a failure to tell other 999 agencies that terrorist incident procedures had been authorised.

Sir John said Mr Sexton gave conflicting evidence when it came to explaining his lapse in communication with other emergency services, that he said he “forgot”. The judge added he did not think the officer “set out to lie”, saying he was “overburdened on the night” and “simply had too much to do”.

The second Greater Manchester Police officer is under investigation for their “actions and decision-making”. Despite the identity remaining unknown, the report continued by criticising senior members of the police force.

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Arif Nawaz, who acted as the temporary superintendent during the time of the Manchester Arena attack, was awarded a silver commander role despite not knowing GMP’s terrorist attack protocol, while Chief Inspector Mark Dexter, who despite being praised for “doing what he could”, had his gap in terror attack procedures training highlighted.

GMP’s gold commander Deborah Ford was found to have “unacceptably” failed to disclose which zones of the arena were safe and that she made “no effective contribution to the emergency response”. David Berry, a commander for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, should have sent firefighters to the initial rendezvous point and not to Phillips Park fire station, which was three miles away from the scene, the report said. The report also pointed out that fire service officers should have acted “more decisively”.

Four British Transport Police officers are also under investigation over their response to the bombing. It first opened regarding their conduct before the attack even took place.

An IOPC spokesperson said: “Our independent investigation into the actions of a former Greater Manchester Police officer when providing information to a review and a series of debriefs following the Manchester Arena bombing is nearing completion. We are also independently investigating a complaint regarding the actions and decision-making of another Greater Manchester Police officer on the night of the attack. A third investigation, carried out by British Transport Police under the IOPC’s direction and control, is under way into complaints regarding the actions of four individuals.”

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