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Manchester Arena bombing: Stewards receive counter-terrorism training on their mobile phones, inquiry hears

Manchester Arena stewards receive most of their counter-terrorism training via their mobile phones, the inquiry into the deadly bombing has heard.

Security staff continue to use their phones to complete online courses – despite inquiry chairman, Sir John Saunders, earlier ruling this method was “unlikely to have been a suitable way to ensure adequate training.”

Sir John said in June: “Simply using good quality e-learning material is not sufficient.

“What is important is ensuring that the trainees have absorbed the learning.

“I recommend that there should not be undue reliance on e-learning, and its limitations need to be recognised.”

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Security company Showsec has defended delivering courses via mobile phones – claiming that university students adopt the same approach.

When questioned about what changes had been made in the wake of the Manchester bombing in 2017, Showsec conceded staff still get just half a day’s training.

However, now the course is presented online rather than in person due to the pandemic.

Showsec managing director Mark Harding insisted the mobile phone was a suitable learning device.

“It’s not unusual, particularly for students at university and colleges and schools, for them to utilise tablets and mobile phones for e-learning,” he told the inquiry on Monday.

“I think it’s become more routine, and I think mobile devices are used for almost every aspect of life these days.”

Stewards sacked for not completing course on time

The e-learning course also includes an audio soundtrack to ease difficulties with reading text on a mobile.

And the programme also measures how much time a person spends on each slide to prevent them from skim reading vital information, Mr Harding said.

“We have to instil as much information as we can, in a timeframe which is appropriate to the individual, and to encourage the individual to attend those sessions,” he added.

Showsec insisted all current employees had completed the government’s ACT security awareness course.

The company axed 150 of its 3,000 part-time stewards and security staff for failing to complete the course within a specific time frame.

Security staff wouldn’t normally provide urgent first aid

Showsec was also forced to defend its first aid policy, as the inquiry heard staff would not normally step in to provide urgent medical assistance.

Mr Harding insisted the primary role of a crowd management company is to protect an area or individual.

“It is very difficult in an emergency for the individual to assess whether it’s appropriate for them to become involved in that (first aid) and they should only undertake that in critical situations when it’s safe to do so,” he said.

The inquiry has previously heard evidence of the “unacceptable and unjustified” security failures on the night which saw 22 people die at the hands of suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

MI5 has also faced criticism over claims it had time to stop the terrorist attack – as a senior officer conceded different decisions could have stopped the plot.

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