In July 2017, the Mayor of Greater Manchester set up an independent review chaired by Lord Kerslake.The review was into Greater Manchester’s preparedness for and emergency response to the Attack. Participation in the work of the review was voluntary. A substantial number of people who gave evidence to me also provided accounts and information to Lord Kerslake’s team.
Lord Kerslake adopted a “Fair Notice” procedure before reporting. This followed the information‑gathering stage. On 9th March 2018, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins wrote in response to the Fair Notice letter which he had received on behalf of GMP. In the course of that response, Chief Constable Hopkins stated: “Relevant emergency service partners were informed of the declaration of Operation Plato.” The letter went on to assert:
“GMP can evidence that GMFRS, NWAS and the military were informed of the Plato declaration, via specified routes, within a few minutes of its declaration. These are the only partners specified in JOPS. We are not clear why this was not then communicated within these organisations, if this was the case. … [the FDO] was able to complete his key tasks, including the notification of Operation Plato.”
Chief Constable Hopkins stated in evidence that the content of this letter was “a very grave error”. I agree. He explained that a team had been established run by DCC Pilling. The information had come from that team. He also pointed out that, on the next working day, an email correcting this error was sent to Lord Kerslake by DCC Pilling.
There was no opportunity for Lord Kerslake to be misled by this error due to the timely correction. What is of more concern to me is that, more than nine months after the Attack, the senior leadership of GMP had not realised that the FDO had not communicated the Operation Plato declaration to other emergency services. That was a highly significant fact which should have been identified by GMP at an early stage. GMP should have put greater effort into understanding why it had happened. Both Chief Constable Hopkins and DCC Pilling should have immediately known the letter to Lord Kerslake was incorrect.
On 27th March 2018, Lord Kerslake delivered his report.
I am grateful to Lord Kerslake and his team for making available the material collected as part of his process. It has assisted my investigation. I see my work as building on his review. With the powers, time, evidence and assistance available to me, I have been able to examine the response in much greater detail.