1. ITV Report

Rehearsed disaster plans 'not triggered' after Grenfell, ITV News learns

  • Video report by ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi

A crucial disaster support plan designed to help survivors was not put into practice as the Grenfell Tower tragedy unfolded, ITV News has learned.

Kensington & Chelsea Council failed to implement measures they had trained in just 15 months prior, according to a panel of emergency planners.

And the local authority repeated mistakes they had made during the 2016 training exercise, it is claimed.

The revelation comes as the deadline for submissions over what the public inquiry into the fire, which killed at least 80 people, should examine passed.

Meanwhile disaster experts have told ITV News that there are alarming gaps in Britain's preparations for a similar major incident.

The council took part in disaster response role plays in 2016.

Survivors, bereaved families and other involved parties have spent the past few weeks making their case about what the scope of the forthcoming public inquiry should be, with many saying they would oppose any form of "limited" inquiry into the disaster.

As the 5pm deadline passed on Friday, more than 400 proposals had been submitted.

One of those, submitted by a group of disaster response experts and seen by ITV News, suggested a vital crisis plan was never triggered by the council as the fire raged.

Well-rehearsed humanitarian assistance strategies, including practical and emotional help to be given to casualties, were not carried out, the experts argued.

Elsewhere, the risk register, a legally required assessment of potential public dangers, failed to mention tower block fires.

Disaster expert Tony Thompson said lessons had not been learned.

Kensington & Chelsea Council repeated several poor responses, highlighted in a disaster role play exercise carried out just 15 months earlier, in the aftermath of Grenfell, it is alleged.

The borough had received detailed recommendations and improvements on their emergency response.

But disaster response expert Tony Thompson said those failings and repeated mistakes robbed fire survivors of vital help.

"We're looking at shelter, we're looking at housing, we're looking at food, somewhere to stay, somewhere away from the emergency," he told ITV News.

He added that more needed to be done to build on experience from previous disasters, such as the 9/11 attack, to combat future scenarios.

More needs to be done to 'build on experience from previous tragedies'.

Meanwhile, the British Consul to New York at the time of 9/11, Sir Thomas Harris, told ITV News that the Grenfell inquiry had to consider why more was not learned ahead of the fire.

He said that in future a disaster scenario could not be left to individual boroughs to respond to.

And Sir Thomas urged a "properly co-ordinated, city-wide" response to future tragedies.

Sir Martin Moore-Bick is a retired Court of Appeal judge. Credit: PA

The next stage of the inquiry will see Sir Martin Moore-Bick, the retired Court of Appeal judge leading the process, write to the Prime Minister with recommendations for what the inquiry should cover.

It is believed that in his letter, Sir Martin may recommend that the Government consider broader questions about social housing separately.

It will then be up to Theresa May to decide what questions the inquiry should seek to answer, which she is expected to do thereafter.

In submission from Justice4Grenfell, the group urged Sir Martin to include an examination of local and national social housing policy and whether it "increased risks to residents".

In the group's submission, six suggestions for the terms of reference were included.

It said the inquiry's fundamental purpose should be restoring public confidence in the safety of "social housing nationally" and the "competence, ability and willingness of public authorities to oversee, regulate and ensure" it.

Calls were also included for Kensington and Chelsea Council to face scrutiny alongside the Home Office, 10 Downing Street and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The group wrote: "The inquiry must uncover the correspondence and documents within these departments that go to the heart of the failed housing and social policies that caused or exacerbated the fire, along with the appalling response in the aftermath.

"The inquiry should seek and obtain internal communications between Government ministers, MPs, councillors and civil servants on matters relating to the Grenfell Tower disaster and the issues related to it."