Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Two British Transport Police officers on duty during Manchester Arena attack given final written warnings

Two British Transport Police (BTP) officers who admitted taking extended refreshment breaks on the night of the Manchester Arena terror attack have been given final written warnings.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) directed an investigation, carried out by BTP, into the actions of two police constables and two police community support officers (PCSOs) who were responsible for patrolling the Arena on the night of the attack in 2017.

It followed a complaint on behalf of families of the victims, relating to evidence heard at the Manchester Arena Inquiry.

On conclusion of the investigation, in January 2024, we found one of the police officers and one of the PCSOs, who is now employed as a BTP police constable, should face disciplinary proceedings in relation to the timing and length of their refreshment breaks, as well as allegations they failed to follow instructions from a senior officer.

A misconduct meeting, held on Friday (10 May), found the case proven against both individuals. They were given final written warnings which will remain in force for the next two years.

We have also recommended that BTP apologises to the complainants for the shortcomings in the policing operation on the night. This was accepted by the force.

We also looked at whether there was any evidence of a wider practice within BTP regarding officers taking extended breaks in similar circumstances. The evidence showed that BTP officers were given clear instructions about the lengths of refreshment breaks. While the lengths of their breaks were not recorded, so we could not rule out the possibility that longer breaks had also been taken at other Arena events, we found no persuasive evidence to suggest this was normal or accepted practice.

IOPC Regional Director Mel Palmer said: “The atrocities committed on the night of 22 May 2017 at the Manchester Arena have had a devastating effect on the lives of so many. Our thoughts remain with the families and loved ones of the victims, and all those affected by this appalling act of terror.

“Nothing can bring back the lives lost, or make up for the pain and suffering experienced by the bereaved, but it is important that the actions of the police are thoroughly scrutinised, mistakes are acknowledged and lessons are learned.

“That is why we have carefully reviewed the steps taken by BTP to address the areas for improvement identified in the Inquiry report, and also recommended that the force apologises to the complainants.

“This investigation has also ensured the two individuals whose actions fell below the standards expected by the public, and who ignored instructions from a senior officer, have now been held accountable.”

Another BTP officer who was the subject of the complaint had retired before the investigation began. We reached the view that the evidence indicated there would have been no case to answer for either misconduct or gross misconduct, had they still been serving. 

We have also made a provisional decision in relation to the other PSCO, who has since taken up a different role at Greater Manchester Police. This has been shared with GMP and we await a response, which is required before we can finalise our decision.

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