Failures after 7/7 bombings exposed

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The Independent Online

A series of failings in the emergency response to the 7 July London bombings were laid bare by an official Government report today.

The Lessons Learned report, released by the Home Office, highlighted flaws in information sharing, communications, the compensation process and the systems for caring for survivors of the blasts.

More could have been done to support all of those caught up in the aftermath of the explosions on London's transport system last year, it found.

Home Secretary John Reid said: "This report concludes that the response to the bombings was fast, professional and effective. However, where shortcomings have been identified, we have set out the work in hand to address them.

"In times of crisis, information and support must be readily available and easy to access for those who need it. Getting the right help in place is of critical importance and we are working hard to strengthen our emergency response."

In the report, Mr Reid and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said there was a "clear message" that more could have been done to support all those who were caught up in the attacks - before, on the day and in the weeks that followed.

They wrote: "A crucial lesson we have drawn is that the quality of help received in the first few hours and days can determine for years to come people's reaction to a terrible event of this sort."

The report revealed that survivors from the blasts found the process of applying for compensation "bureaucratic, slow and distressing".

It also said older communications systems "probably degraded the emergency services' command and control capabilities".

Ms Jowell added: "I have been humbled by the courage and dignity of the bereaved families and those who survived the attacks.

"I am very grateful to them for sharing their experiences, and absolutely determined that we will apply the lessons learned so that we can do better in the future."

The report is one of two being published today concerning the July 7 attacks last year on three London Underground trains and a bus that killed 56 people, including the four suicide bombers.

It is the latest official account of the events surrounding the July 7 attacks to be critical of the British authorities.

In May, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) disclosed that at least two of the bombers had come to the attention of the security services beforehand.

Its report concluded that extra resources could have prevented the bombings and that there were a number of "lessons to be learned".

Then in June, a damning report by the London Assembly exposed a catalogue of failings in the chaotic aftermath of the attacks.

Massive communication problems, a lack of basic medical supplies and a "completely unacceptable" failure to care properly for thousands of survivors were just some of the serious deficiencies it identified in the rescue operation.