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Volume 1: Security for the Arena
Volume 1: Security for the Arena (large format)

22nd May 2017 (20:30 to 20:51)

SA walking from the tram stop to the City Room

At 20:30 on 22nd May 2017, SA arrived at Manchester Victoria tram stop. He was carrying the backpack which contained the bomb. He walked from there to the male toilets on the Victoria Station concourse. After a short period in the toilets, he made his way to the City Room using the station concourse lift.

During this journey he walked past two BTP Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and two members of Showsec staff. These were further opportunities during which he might have been detected. He was visibly weighed down by his backpack, which weighed in excess of 30kgs.18 He was over-dressed for the warm evening. He was wearing a hat. These facts in combination are likely to have struck an appropriately trained person as being of potential significance, if they noticed him. That is not the same thing as saying that SA’s appearance meant that he should have been noticed. The Victoria Exchange Complex was far from empty of other people. It was a transport hub with a railway station, a tram stop and a car park. Having some sort of heavy bag was not unusual in itself even in combination with wearing too many clothes and a hat.

It is easy with the benefit of hindsight to see the images of SA anywhere in the Victoria Exchange Complex while wearing the backpack and conclude that his appearance made him suspicious. Stripping out hindsight, while it is possible that an appropriately trained and vigilant person may have reached that conclusion on the basis of his appearance, I do not think that it is fair to criticise anyone who did not do so at this stage.

Consequently, I do not criticise the BTP PCSOs who walked past SA on the station concourse for not identifying him as being suspicious at that point. Nor do I criticise the Showsec staff who were on the footbridge which gave access from the station concourse to the City Room for the fact that neither of them noticed SA when he passed them on his way to the City Room. While these were opportunities, they were not missed opportunities in the sense in which I mean that phrase.