Police officers who went for kebab on night of Manchester terror attack given final warnings

UK

Two police officers who took a two-hour break to get kebabs on the night of the Manchester Arena terror attack have been given final written warnings.

The inquiry into the atrocity had heard suicide bomber Salman Abedi may have been challenged if a British Transport Police (BTP) officer had been present.

It heard none of the BTP officers responsible for patrolling the venue were in the arena’s foyer at the time of the attack – despite instructions one should be positioned there at the end of the concert.

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Victims of the Manchester Arena terror attack

The May 2017 explosion killed 22 people and injured hundreds more as mainly young concert-goers left the Ariana Grande gig.

An investigation into two police constables and two police community support officers (PCSOs) was ordered by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following a complaint by families of the victims relating to the evidence given to the inquiry.

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June 2023: Manchester Arena Inquiry closes

The probe found one of the police officers and one of the PCSOs, who is now employed as a BTP police constable, should face disciplinary proceedings for the “timing and length of their refreshment breaks”, as well as failing to follow instructions from a senior officer.

A misconduct meeting found the case proven against both unnamed individuals, understood to be PCs Jessica Bullough and Mark Renshaw.

They were given final written warnings which will remain in force for the next two years.

The same officers had previously been praised for their response after the blast – running into the foyer to help those injured.

The police watchdog also recommended BTP apologises to the families of the victims for the shortcomings in the policing operation on the night.

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PC Jessica Bullough gave evidence at the inquiry

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Mark Renshaw has since become a BTP police constable. Pic: PA

This was accepted by the force, the IOPC said.

The watchdog found “no persuasive evidence” to suggest longer breaks “was normal or accepted practice”.

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IOPC regional director Mel Palmer added: “The atrocities committed on the night of 22 May 2017 at the Manchester Arena have had a devastating effect on the lives of so many.

“Our thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the victims, and all those affected by this appalling act of terror.

“Nothing can bring back the lives lost, or make up for the pain and suffering experienced by the bereaved, but it is important that the actions of the police are thoroughly scrutinised, mistakes are acknowledged and lessons are learned.

“That is why we have carefully reviewed the steps taken by BTP to address the areas for improvement identified in the inquiry report, and also recommended that the force apologises to the complainants.

“This investigation has also ensured the two individuals whose actions fell below the standards expected by the public, and who ignored instructions from a senior officer, have now been held accountable.”

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Another BTP officer who was the subject of the complaint retired before the investigation began.

But the IOPC said: “We reached the view that the evidence indicated there would have been no case to answer for either misconduct or gross misconduct, had they still been serving.”

It added: “We have also made a provisional decision in relation to the other PSCO, who has since taken up a different role at Greater Manchester Police.

“This has been shared with GMP and we await a response, which is required before we can finalise our decision.”

BTP’s Deputy Chief Constable Alistair Sutherland said: “The Force carried out an investigation, under the direction of IOPC, into the conduct of two BTP officers who were deployed to police Manchester Arena on the night of 22 May 2017.

“Both officers appeared before a misconduct hearing on 10 May 2024 chaired by an independent senior officer who found the case against them to be proven.

“The highest sanction available was given as an outcome to both officers.

“We apologise unreservedly to the complainants and all the families and friends of the victims for our failings.”

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