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The Manchester Arena Inquiry has now concluded. The closure notice from the Inquiry Chairman is available here.

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

SMG and Showsec: commercial pressures

In the course of their questioning, representatives of the bereaved families asked questions about whether and if so, to what extent, SMG and Showsec had deliberately risked the safety of audiences in order to save money.

It is implicit in the findings that I have made that both SMG and Showsec failed to take steps to improve security at the Arena that they should have taken. That does not mean that they deliberately risked the safety of event-goers. Further, not taking those steps did save the companies money but again that does not mean that they knowingly risked the safety of event-goers to increase their profits.

It was inevitable that SMG and Showsec would look to save money when they could, both to increase profits and to ensure that they remained competitive. There are very few private and public organisations who do not do this. This did lead to reviews of staffing levels which management undoubtedly hoped would lead to savings. After those reviews, when warned by Miriam Stone that cutting staff would lead to a reduction in security, no reductions were made. While there is a sensible argument that not only were no reductions appropriate but that an increase should follow the change in terrorist threat, I do not think, looking at the evidence as a whole, that a finding that safety was deliberately compromised to save money is justified, even on the balance of probability.

The justified criticism on the evidence I heard is that SMG and Showsec did not take a number of necessary steps, some of which would have involved the spending of additional money, in order to provide a sufficient level of protection against the terrorist threat.