Manchester Arena bombing: new law for venues will be ‘ground breaking’, inquiry told

Inquiry hears the concert venue was an ‘attractive target’

Lucy D'Orsi, deputy assistant commissioner at National Counter Terrorism Police Headquarters, giving evidence at the Manchester Arena Inquiry.
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A new law to improve safety and security at public venues and spaces in the UK will be ground breaking, one of the country's top counter-terrorism officials said on Monday.

Lucy D'Orsi, deputy assistant commissioner at National Counter Terrorism Police Headquarters, told the Manchester Arena inquiry that venues failing to implement adequate security measures should face sanctions.

At present it is up to venues to decide whether or not to adopt recommended security measures.

Proposed legislation was drawn up after terrorist attacks in 2017, including the Manchester Arena bombing in which 22 people were killed and hundreds more injured when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert.

Forensic officers investigate the scene near the Manchester Arena, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Giving evidence at the public inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing on Monday, Ms D'Orsi said the arena would have been an attractive target to terrorists because of the crowding around it.

She said industry operatives are now ready to work on new measures.

“It should be mandatory and there should be a legal framework,” she said.

“Sanctions should be put in place if they choose not to take it.

“Industry is ready to have consultations now. Industry operatives are very supporting of a protect duty. I want a protect duty now, as quickly as possible.

"A protect duty would be a seismic shift to the way everybody deals with security. It would be as ground-breaking as the General Data Protection Regulations have been for data handling."

Figen Murray, the mother of Martyn Hett, who was killed in the attack, has been campaigning for venues to have action plans against such attacks.

But consultation about the new law has been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Manchester Arena public inquiry is examining the circumstances of the attack and if any opportunities to prevent it were missed.

It was established by Home Secretary Priti Patel in October last year and is expected to run until spring 2021.

Suicide bomber Abedi, 22, died after detonating a rucksack bomb in a foyer area of the arena at the end of the concert.

His younger brother Hashem Abedi in March was convicted on 22 counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

He was jailed for a minimum of 55 years in August.