Manchester Arena Inquiry: What can our city expect now, according to Andy Burnham?

Andy Burnham is adamant that changes have already been made to emergency services after the second volume of the Manchester Arena Inquiry was published yesterday. 

Greater Manchester Police and GM Fire and Rescue Service were heavily criticised in an independent review into the terror attack that killed 22 people in 2017. 

The mayor assured Mancunians that “there has been a total turnaround since”, but also insisted that “there is no complacency” – as he laid out new measures to be taken in light of the Inquiry’s release. 

When asked about the changes made to GMP and GMFRS in the last five years, Burnham said: “Don’t just take our word for it. Look at what His Majesty’s Chief Inspector is saying in relation to both services. They are assessed independently to be a very different place than they were.”

Both organisations appointed new chief officers after poor leadership was blamed for the faults five years ago, when death could have been prevented. 

The report condemned the services’ failings and recommended improvements “so that no one has to suffer such terrible pain and loss again”. 

Burnham apologised in the wake of the findings and said: “You were badly let down on that night. You were entitled to expect much better from our emergency services than the response provided.”

The mayor proposed four changes in answer to the Inquiry. 

He first wants a major overhal of the handling of 999 calls in Greater Manchester. “While I do not criticise individual members of staff, it is clear that North West Fire Control did not adequately support the response on that night,” he said.

Fire calls are currently handled in a separate service outside the the city region, an issue which Burnham promised to address in the new year. 

His second outline championed a legal duty of candour to prevent police forces nationwide from lying in the aftermath of major incidents. This was endorsed by others after the Hillsborough tragedy and Burnham cited it as “a protection against the wrong behaviours that can lead to poor cultures”. 

He said: “If the government would like to trial its approach, I would like to offer Greater Manchester to the Home Secretary as a place where we would be willing to do that, working in partnership with the Home Office.”

Burnham will also fight for legislative change to strengthen security at public venues, coined as ‘Martyn’s Law’. He paid tribute to Figen Murray, who has tirelessly campaigned for this after her 29-year-old son Martyn Hett was killed at the Ariana Grande concert. 

“The government must turn commitments to legislate into real action and resist any calls to water down this important and much-needed law,” he added. 

Burnham concluded by lashing out against those perpetuating false narratives and conspiracies around the bombing – an issue not exclusive to the Arena attack. He called on Westminster to make it a specific offence to deny facts about such disasters. 

He lambasted: “I find it utterly abhorrent that people injured in this atrocity and families bereaved have been harassed and trolled by those who seek to portray it as a hoax. I can barely believe that something like this is even happening in our country like ours.” 

The report’s final volume will scrutinise the role played by the Security Service and Counter Terrorism Police. Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders will also investigate the possible radicalisation of Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber responsible for the catastrophe. 

Related Articles