Manchester bomber Salman Abedi was known to the police for minor crimes, according to a police chief
M15 has launched two enquiries into whether they missed the risk posed by the British-born Libyan after sources suggested he was "a former subject of interest" to security services.
But Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said while the 22 -year-old appeared on police logs for theft, receiving stolen goods and assault when he was 16 or 17, he had not featured in the government’s "Prevent" counter-terrorism strategy.
He praised the "brilliant" work the Greater Manchester force had already done in what he described as a "massively fast-paced" investigation.
And he promised investigators “would leave no stone unturned in trying to nail down” Abedi’s last movements and trace “every single bit of property that is out there”.
Mr Hopkins was speaking on a BBC Radio Manchester phone-in a week after the suicide attack at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena, which left 22 dead and over a hundred injured.
Salman's offences included theft, receiving stolen goods and minor assault
He was known to the police for some relatively minor matters, theft, receiving stolen goods, minor assault.
Ian Hopkins, Chief Constable
He told listeners: “What I do know about Abedi, the terrorist, is that he was known to the police for some relatively minor matters, theft, receiving stolen goods, minor assault.
“Abedi was not known to the Prevent programme…(he) was not on any sort of Prevent agenda.
"Obviously, I am not privy to what the security service did or didn’t know about that individual at this time. But from a police perspective that’s what I knew.”
He said 18 scenes – including a landfill site in Bury – were still being guarded and searched in a bid to find anything Abedi had discarded that may be significant, including a blue suitcase he was seen with the day before the attack.
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Salman was responsible for the death of 22 people after planting a nail bomb at Manchester arena
He said: “We are just trying to make sure we capture everything that he has discarded so we can then see what the significance is. Has it (the suitcase) got DNA on it of people that may have helped him? Has it material he may have used?”
He confirmed detectives had until next Monday, June 5, to detain the 14 suspects in custody without charge but could apply for further extensions if required and revealed specialist Crown Prosecution lawyers had been working with GMP since last week as they gathered evidence and built charges.
He said: “There is a wide number of individuals that have been arrested because, as you can probably imagine, once you start getting into phone records and financial records it starts to paint a picture that we didn’t have at the immediate point of the attack.
“The investigation has been massively fast-paced. We have had thousands of officers working on it. We have made incredible progress to date.
“There are 14 people currently in custody. We have 18 scenes that are still being guarded and forensically examined across Greater Manchester. Within those scenes we have found items that we would say are of significance to the investigation.
“We are very pleased with where we have got to. Enormous progress that in itself has led to the decision by the Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre to lower the threat level from critical back to severe.
“But, of course, all of us would not want it to have happened in the first place.”
He said the investigation would continue for some time and that “a significant team of detectives” would be assembled to prepare for “inevitable court cases”.
As news also broke of Mancunians pinning ‘heart-shaped’ notes to an Oldham mosque – firebombed in a suspected hate-crime, Mr Hopkins went on: “The big piece of work we have to do now here in Greater Manchester is to really start to ratchet up the programme around inclusion and engagement.”
14 people are currently in custody in connection with the attack as police continue to investigate Mourning for Manchester: The world pays tribute Thu, May 25, 2017
Makeshift memorials and tributes to victims of the deadly attack at an Ariana Grande concert.
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Britain's Queen Elizabeth visits the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital in Manchester
He said it was vital ‘to work with our young people… trying to get to the heart of why people are feeling isolated and why they are subjected to being influenced in this way and radicalised.”
He said he had already spoken to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and local authority heads in that regard.
“Please just remember that 22 people will never go home and they and their families should remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
Meanwhile there were moving scenes as Victoria Station, which adjoins the Arena, re-opened to the public for the first time since the bombing.
Mr Burnham and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling were among those to lay wreaths as tearful staff – some of whom the first responders on the night of the attack- returned to work.
Commuter Hannah Khan, 32, said: “I just want to hold my hands out and hug everyone.”