CTP Statement on Reading Terror Attack Inquest | Counter Terrorism Policing

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CTP Statement on Reading Terror Attack Inquest

Statement from Assistant Chief Constable Tim Metcalfe, chief officer lead for Counter Terrorism Policing South East and on behalf of Thames Valley Police:

Today, my thoughts, and those of everyone at Counter Terrorism Policing  and Thames Valley Police are with the families and friends of James Furlong, Joseph Ritchie-Bennett, and Dr David Wails.

They are also with the people of Reading, who I know have been deeply affected by what happened in Forbury Gardens on the 20th June 2020.

Throughout the inquest hearing, the families and loved ones of those killed that evening have shown great dignity during what must have been an extremely traumatic and difficult process.

I appreciate their enduring patience and understanding, given the time it has taken to get to this stage. Throughout this hearing, they have heard detailed evidence about what happened and what was known about the offender prior to the incident from a range of different agencies. It cannot be underestimated how difficult that is to hear.

We acknowledge the conclusions given by the Judge Coroner today, which we will of course need time to fully consider and we await the full details of any formal recommendations.

However, we, in policing, have not waited until this point to make changes where needed. When reviewing our actions in relation to this case, we identified a number of areas where changes were needed or processes could be improved.

Much has already been done to address these issues, but let me be clear, I know that there is still work to do. We are unrelenting in our commitment to learn, change and improve where required. We will continue to work with other agencies  locally and nationally to ensure  learning from this terrible attack is shared and acted upon.

In this moment it is also important to reflect on the terrorist threat that we in UK policing and our partners face. It is significant and continually evolving.

Many of the cases we are working on now involve people with complex mental health and social needs. We also are seeing more individuals with mixed or unclear ideology, who can be more difficult to assess and manage.

Policing is full of people who work hard every single day to help protect others and help them in their hour of need.  We heard evidence during the inquest about the bravery of on duty and off duty officers who administered first aid and who ran towards the attacker to arrest and detain him. We also heard about those who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

We must not lose sight of this part of police work, but we must also understand when we need to change our response and approach.

While the conclusions delivered by the Judge Coroner today bring an end to the legal proceedings around this case, I am all too aware that the pain and trauma for the families of those who died, and everyone else who was affected by this incident, does not end today

We must now fully review and reflect on the conclusions from the Judge Coroner and ensure we do all we can to strengthen our efforts to keep our communities and our country safe.