Former security head warns pubs to boost vigilance after Manchester terror attack

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Warning: pubs told to increase security following terror attack on Manchester Arena
Warning: pubs told to increase security following terror attack on Manchester Arena

Related tags Terrorism

The former head of the National Counter Terrorism Security Office Chris Phillips has warned pubs and bars to increase their security following the devastating bombing at the Manchester Arena last night.

At least 22 people have been killed and 59 injured in what is now being described by police as the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the 2005 London bombings, where 52 people were killed.

READ: Advice for pubs on the threat of terrorism from legal experts Poppleston Allen

Phillips told Radio 4’s Today Programme ​this morning (23 May) it was unknown whether this was a one off attack or the first in a series.

“This was obviously a planned attack and that would involve people looking at the venue and seeing how the venue operates. We don’t know that this attack has yet concluded,” he said.

“Places like this [Manchester Arena], theatres, music venues, pubs and bars and night clubs [need to be] making their security that much better. Everyone needs to be alert.”

‘Music venues, pubs and bars’

Figures from 2016 showed Manchester had the highest number of pubs and bars per head in the region, totalling 1,279 licensed premises per 1,000 people living in the area, according to the Manchester Evening Standard​.

Now, the most important thing was for people, councils and businesses to protect their properties against such attacks as much as possible, said Phillips.

“What each venue needs to do is to protect itself because the further away the threat is kept, the better. This was timed specifically for when people were leaving,” he added.

Terrorists were not out to target specific segments of society, such as Christians or other religious groups, but would aim to kill as many people as possible, the security expert claimed.

“Crowded places happen across all part of our country and every town needs to make sure they are doing the right things to protect people,” he added.  

Westminster terror attack

The attack in Manchester follows the Westminster terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London on 23 March, where a Fuller’s pub had to “safely evacuate”​ its customers.

Staff at the Red Lion escorted punters from the pub following the incident where a man drove a car along the pavement on Westminster Bridge and knocked down pedestrians before stabbing an unarmed police officer.

Following the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, where 129 died in the French capital, the Metropolitan Police advised all businesses to review their continuity plans​ and ensure staff were trained to respond to such incidents.

Westminster Police said: “We cannot ignore the fact that we operate in crowded places, which present as soft targets.

“Please be aware and report suspicious behaviour. Ensure your security staff are compliant around entry checks, left luggage, etc… The more eyes we have on the ground, the better.”

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