Operation Manteline took witness statements from those with evidence relevant to the criminal investigation. Inevitably, there was a substantial overlap between what was relevant to that investigation and the Inquiry’s terms of reference.
For good reason, the focus of the criminal investigation was not on command decisions on the night of the Attack. As a result, witness statements were not taken from emergency services commanders until requests were made for them by me once I had been appointed as the Coroner for the inquests. This meant that many key witnesses did not make witness statements until several years after their involvement in the Attack. This included three people whose decisions I have needed to scrutinise in detail: the GMP Force Duty Officer (FDO), the NWAS Operational Commander and the GMFRS duty National Interagency Liaison Officer (NILO).
For those witnesses who did not have recourse to comprehensive notes made at the time, this was unsatisfactory. Even where a recording exists, the rationale behind decision‑making was not always captured. To take one example to illustrate this point: Inspector Sexton’s first witness statement was dated 6th December 2019.“it obviously would have been more helpful” if Inspector Sexton’s full account had been captured earlier than this.This was two and a half years after the Attack. As DCC Pilling observed,
I recommend that the Home Office, College of Policing, National Ambulance Resilience Unit and Fire Service College take steps to ensure that all emergency services understand the importance of obtaining comprehensive accounts from commanders as part of the debrief process. This will not necessarily need to occur following every Major Incident. A threshold will need to be identified for this to be triggered. As a minimum, I would expect it to occur as a result of every terrorist attack and any Major Incident which results in death.