Mon. Sep 27th, 2021

Manchester Arena Inquiry: Police chief denies misleading review

The chief constable at the time of the Manchester attack has denied misleading an independent review into the emergency response six months later.

The public inquiry into the 2017 attack has heard of significant multi-agency communication failures.

Ian Hopkins said he did not send a “rose-tinted” report about Greater Manchester Police’s bomb response to Lord Kerslake’s review.

He said he was unaware of the level of failures at that point.

The inquiry has heard fire crews did not arrive at the scene for more than two hours and only three paramedics were at the City Room, where the device exploded.

Twenty-two people died and hundreds more were injured in the May 2017 suicide bombing.

Other emergency services could not get through to the GMP force duty officer, the initial commander of the incident, as members of the public, police officers and arena staff had to resort to using makeshift stretchers to move casualties, the hearing has been told.

Earlier this month, current Deputy Chief Constable Ian Pilling publicly apologised for failings by GMP when he gave evidence to the inquiry.

Pete Weatherby QC, representing the bereaved families, suggested Mr Hopkins was giving a “rose-tinted description of a smoothly run response without any problems” in his letter to Lord Kerslake on 8 November 2017.

Mr Hopkins said he was trying to “give a flavour” of what took place and the scale of it.

“I don’t think we were aware of the failures to the degree we are now,” he said.

“Nobody at that point was talking about that level of failure.”

Mr Weatherby said Mr Hopkins had presided over what now seemed “a misleading picture”.

Mr Hopkins said: “Nearly four years on, I can see the point you’re making.

“But that was clearly never anybody’s intention. We engaged with the Kerslake Review to learn lessons, to find out what had happened, but our view was that whilst far from perfect, it had been a good response, with many, many elements working very well.”

Mr Hopkins stepped down from his post in December following a scathing report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, which revealed the force had failed to properly record 80,000 crimes.

The inquiry continues.

Source: (BBC News)