How can we make venues safer?

The crowd at Sunday night’s One Love Manchester concert. Image: Getty.

The bomb attack on Manchester Arena came at a time when the whole of the UK is on high terror alert. Across Europe, there recently have been a number of attacks using vehicles and knives – and that has focused many people’s minds on these being the types of terrorist assault to expect.

But Manchester has now taught us that we should never forget the acute danger presented by bomb attacks. The ConversationOnly last year we saw bombs in Brussels, Belgium, and Aachen, Germany. Now the police and security services are ascertaining whether the Manchester bomber was acting on his own or as part of a network – or indeed whether or not ISIS is responsible for the attack as it claims. Using an improvised explosive device does require a degree of sophistication and knowledge. We saw this during the Irish Troubles, when pipe bombs were used, as well as in the 2013 Boston Marathon attack when a pressure cooker was converted into an IED and ball bearings, nuts and bolts were released at high velocity as shrapnel to maximises the impact of the explosion.

Swift response

The effectiveness and efficiency of the emergency services in dealing with the aftermath of the Manchester attack is already apparent. Over the last few years, a number of practical terrorism training exercises have been run in various locations in the UK – including at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. The aim of these exercises is to test responses to various forms of attack, from terrorists using small arms fire in the likes of a shopping centre to bomb attacks. This is part of the Prepare strand of the UK’s CONTEST terrorism strategy.

As we saw in Manchester two weeks ago, the usefulness of these exercises clearly paid dividends and emergency services effectively were able to seal off an area around the location of the attacks and deal with casualties.

But can these types of attacks ever always be prevented? There appears to have been a degree of planning in selecting the Manchester Arena, which is a large concert venue where high profile entertainers perform to big audiences, as a target. The timing also seems to have been considered – the end of the concert when it would have been easier to walk from the street to the entrance/exit and detonate an explosive device.

Similarly, attacks using knives or vehicles as weapons are very hard to prevent. Nevertheless, we have seen that physical barriers can diminish the threat posed by vehicles.

Security is usually strict upon entering sporting and concert venues such as the Manchester Arena. Bags are searched and tickets closely checked. But perhaps we need stricter measures at these venues when people are leaving. This is not an easy task, as we saw in Manchester – friends and relatives were also waiting near the exit to pick people up and take them home.

But perhaps we shouldn’t lose perspective: thankfully, terrorist attacks are still rare, in part thanks to the work the police and security services do in preventing them. And we should not let terrorism affect our movements as we live as normal a life as possible. Nevertheless, we now have to expect the possibility of further attacks and, unfortunately, we all need to become more vigilant.

David Lowe is a senior lecturer at the Liverpool Centre for Advanced Police Studies, Liverpool John Moores University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

City Monitor is now live in beta at

CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

My background includes having served as the founding editor of CityLab, editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura, and editor-in-chief of DCist, a local news publication in the District of Columbia. I’ve been reporting on and writing about cities in one way or another for the past 15 years. To me, there is no more important story in the world right now than how cities are changing and adapting to an increasingly challenging global landscape. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and if we’re ever going to be able to tackle the most pressing issues currently facing our planet – the climate emergency, rising inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic ­­­– cities are going to have to lead the way.

That’s why City Monitor is now a global publication dedicated to the future of cities everywhere – not just in the UK (nor for that matter just in the US, where I live). Our mission is to help our readers, many of whom are in leadership positions around the globe, navigate how cities are changing and discover what’s next in the world of urban policy. We’ll do that through original reporting, expert opinion and most crucially, a data-driven approach that emphasises evidence and rigorous analysis. We want to arm local decision-makers and those they work in concert with – whether that’s elected officials, bureaucratic leaders, policy advocates, neighbourhood activists, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs, or plain-old engaged citizens – with real insights and potential answers to tough problems. Subjects we cover include transportation, infrastructure, housing, urban design, public safety, the environment, the economy, and much more.

The City Monitor team is made up of some of the most experienced urban policy journalists in the world. Our managing editor is Adam Sneed, also a CityLab alum where he served as a senior associate editor. Before that he was a technology reporter at Politico. Allison Arieff is City Monitor’s senior editor. She was previously editorial director of the urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, as well as a contributing columnist for The New York Times. Staff writer Jake Blumgart most recently covered development, housing and politics for WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia. And our data reporter is Alexandra Kanik, whose previous roles include data reporting for Louisville Public Media in Kentucky and PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Our team will continue to grow in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be collaborating closely with our editorial colleagues across New Statesman Media Group. In fact, we’re launching a whole network of new publications, covering topics such as the clean energy transition, foreign direct investment, technology, banks and more. Many of these sectors will frequently overlap with our cities coverage, and a key part of our plan is make the most of the expertise that all of these newsrooms combined will bring to bear on our journalism.

Please visit going forward, where you can also sign up for our free email newsletter.

As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

On behalf of the City Monitor team, I’m thrilled to invite you to come along for the ride at our new digs. You can follow City Monitor on LinkedIn and on Twitter. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for a commercial partnership with City Monitor, please get in touch with our director of partnerships, Joe Maughan.

I want to thank and congratulate Jonn Elledge on a brilliant run. Everything we do from here on out will be building on the legacy of his work, and the community that he built here at CityMetric. Cheers, Jonn!

To our readers, on behalf of the City Monitor team, thank you from all of us for being such loyal CityMetric fans. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.