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Manchester Arena

Are venues taking the terror threat seriously?

Venues are still too vulnerable to terrorist attacks, a former national counter terrorism co-ordinator has told the BBC, 19 June.

Speaking to the broadcaster, Nick Aldworth, also a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent, said a new law must be implemented which would see venues forced to make more thorough checks of people and bags.

Aldworth is supporting a campaign for more rigorous checks, known as Martyn's Law, after Martyn Hett, who was a victim of the Manchester Arena (pictured) attack in 2017.

While some venues do perform bag checks, Aldworth said to the BBC that he believes some venues persist to be “reckless and negligent”.

Rachel Parker, director of the Association of Event Venues, (AEV), told CN that the AEV Security Working Group has been in continuous cooperation with the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) for several years, prior to and after the Manchester bombing. She says the association has been “cascading security updates and advice to member organisations and holding workshops on fake identity documentation and crowd management and NaCTSO officers have regularly attended AEV sec working group meetings.”

The AEV Security Working Group will be joined by the National Arena Association (NAA) Security Working Group at a joint meeting on 5 July to improve and increase information sharing and best security practices.

Shaun Hinds, chief executive at Manchester Central, told CN that it is crucial that venues appropriately risk asses and devise proportionate security measures for each and every event or situation.

Hinds added: “We’ve implemented a range of initiatives since the Manchester Arena attack and continue to evaluate and revise our security procedures.

“Visitors and organisers can be assured that safety is our highest priority and we actively undertake overt and more discrete activities based on the nature of the event we are hosting. Everyone is responsible for venue security and we’ll continue to ensure that all employees and venue staff understand the role that they can play.”

Peter Duthie, chief executive, Scottish Event Campus (SEC) made clear the safety of the public attending events at the SEC is the venue’s highest priority. He told CN: “We continually liaise with the appropriate authorities including Police Scotland.”

Duthie also added that training is a constant process. He said: “We carry out regular training including table top exercises and response guidance.  Enhanced security measures as well as security checks on entry are in place and regularly reviewed to provide reassurance to our visitors.”