2 victims in London Bridge attack were Cambridge University graduates – Global News

2 victims in London Bridge attack were Cambridge University graduates - Global News
British PM vows to strengthen prison sentences after London attack
The two victims killed in a stabbing attack on London Bridge were graduates of the University of Cambridge, London‘s Metropolitan Police confirmed in a statement on Sunday.

Jack Merritt, 25, and 23-year-old Saskia Jones were both graduates of the university and were involved in the institute’s ‘Learning Together’ program focusing on prisoner rehabilitation.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Police set up screens outside a property in Stafford that is being searched following the stabbings in London. Photograph: Jacob King/PA The Observer understands that although Khan was not considered high risk, he was seen by probation twice a week. There was nothing in his pattern of behaviour prior to the attacks that suggested his risk profile had changed. As is mandatory for convicted terrorists, he was on the governments Desistance and Disengagement deradicalisation programme and was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation, organised by the University of Cambridge, when he is alleged to have stabbed two people to death.

The program had been hosting an event at Fishmonger’s Hall, a building on London Bridge, where police say the attack began.

However, Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, cautioned against a kneejerk reaction from politicians. The IPP sentence was abolished because many low- and no-risk people were left languishing in prison, sometimes for years. The pursuit of total security will only ever result in multiple injustices. We need to learn the lessons from any failings of supervision in this particular case, and do a lot more to address the causes of extremism.

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In a statement provided to police, Jones’ family said she was a “funny, kind, positive influence” who was “at the centre of many people’s lives.”

“She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people,” the statement reads.

At his appeal Khans legal team claimed that he was a young man whose ambition was to bring sharia law to Pakistan-controlled Kashmir and that it was highly unrealistic to suppose that the authorities in Pakistan would allow a teenager from Stoke to impose sharia law or run a training school for terrorists.

Her family said she was “intent on living life to the full” and had a “wonderful thirst for knowledge” which enabled her to be the “best she could be.”

“Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment program, wishing to specialize in victim support,” the family said.

They wanted to get academics out of ivory towers, said one justice campaigner who asked not to be named. They wanted prisoners and criminologists to sit together in the classroom and learn together. An American idea, it has now spread across the UK, with many prisons teaming up with universities.

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In a statement released Sunday, Loraine Gelsthorpe, professor and Director of the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge University said Jones’ “warm disposition and extraordinary intellectual creativity was combined with a strong belief that people who have committed criminal offences should have opportunities for rehabilitation.”

Prisoners are usually released halfway through such sentences, but Khan had served less than seven years when he was freed on licence in December last year and ordered to wear a tag. His time spent in custody before he was sentenced would have been taken into account, according to legal experts.

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Gelsthorpe said the ‘Learning Together’ community “valued her contributions enormously” and were “inspired by her determination to push towards the good.”

His radicalism dates back to at least 2006 when he would engage in street activism, preaching against homosexuality. In 2008 his Staffordshire home was raided by police who suspected him of trying to brainwash vulnerable members of his community. His views, it seems, were deep and stubborn.

Video: London Terror Attack Suspect Was Released From Jail In 2018 | TODAY

In a statement provided to police, Merritt’s family said he was a “beautiful, talented boy” who “died doing what he loved, surrounded by people he loved and who loved him.”

It would be a tragedy if what has happened has an impact on the initiative, the campaigner said. Maybe 98% of those who attend benefit from it. Remember, some of those who chased him down were ex-offenders whod been at the same conference.

Video: Political row over London Bridge attack deepens as second victim named

London attack victims took part in program with prisoners

“He lit up our lives and the lives of his many friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly,” the statement reads. Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog.”

Regardless of who is to blame, it is clear that setting Khan free before his sentence was concluded put the public at risk at a time when the official terrorism threat level had recently been lowered because of a perceived reduction in the risk of jihadis returning from Syria to Britain to launch attacks.

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His family says he was an “intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person” who was looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, Leanne, and building a career helping people in the criminal justice system.

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In her statement, Gelsthorpe said the institute will miss Merritt’s “quiet humour and rigorous intellect.”

“Jacks passion for social and criminal justice was infectious,” she wrote. “He was deeply creatively and courageously engaged with the world, advocating for a politics of love.”

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In a tweet on Sunday, London mayor Sadiq Khan said the “thoughts of all Londoners are with the families and loved ones” of Merritt and Jones.

Officials say about 74 people fit this category. Conditions typically including the wearing of an electronic device that allows police to track a person’s movements, a curfew, limitations on internet use and smartphone use, and reporting on a regular basis to police.

“They will forever be in our hearts,” he wrote. “Terrorism has no place in our society and we stand resolute against it.”

The thoughts of all Londoners are with the families and loved ones of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, who lost their lives in the horrific terror attack at London Bridge. They will forever be in our hearts.

“Either he’s incompetent and doesn’t know the law, or he’s deliberately misleading people when we’ve got a tragedy on our hands, and I’m afraid, either way, it does not look good for the prime minister,” Davey said.

According to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, the attack began at Fishmonger’s Hall.

“We believe that the attack began inside before he left the building and proceeded onto London Bridge,” Basu said.

The accuracy of Johnson’s claim was challenged by Ed Davey, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who told Sky News that the prime minister was misleading the public about the current law regarding the early release of prisoners.

READ MORE: Suspect in London Bridge knife attack identified as convicted terrorist released in 2018

Speaking before chairing a meeting of the Governments emergency committee Cobra on Friday night, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had long argued that it is a mistake to allow serious and violent criminals to come out of prison early and it is very important that we get out of that habit and that we enforce the appropriate sentences for dangerous criminals, especially for terrorists, that I think the public will want to see.

Boris Johnson vows to strengthen prison sentences after London terror attack

Video footage at the scene shows members of the public armed with a narwhal tusk and a fire extinguisher confront Khan, before he is taken to the ground.

As investigations began into the incident and how Khan was freed from jail after serving less than half of his sentence, the Queen sent thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and praised the brave individuals who put their own lives at risk to selflessly help and protect others.

Basu said Khan appeared to have an explosive strapped to his chest, however, officers determined to be a “hoax device.”

This individual was known to authorities, having been convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences. He was released from prison in December 2018 on licence and clearly a key line of enquiry now is to establish how he came to carry out this attack.

According to Basu, Khan was detained and “subsequently confronted and shot by armed officers.”

Convicted in 2012 for terrorism offences, Khan was known to U.K. authorities, Basu said. However, he had been released in 2018.

The Islamic State has said the attack was carried out by one of its fighters, however, the group did not provide any evidence.

The attack has now sparked political debate surrounding the early release of convicted criminals, with some calling for more stringent rules surrounding prisoner release.

Mr Johnson and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have praised members of the public who intervened, tackling the perpetrator and trying to remove knives from his hands after videos circulated on social media.

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Officers say one of the injured has returned home while the other two remain in hospital for treatment but are in stable condition.

Khan was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation organised by University of Cambridge-associated Learning Together at Fishmongers Hall and threatened to blow up the building.

Boris Johnson accused of misleading voters as he vows to toughen laws in wake of fatal terrorist attack

People hold down a man who had stabbed a number of people, on the London Bridge, in London, Britain, November 29, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. HAND LUGGAGE ONLY via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. ORG XMIT: LNDB001

The Parole Board said it had no involvement in his release and Khan appears to have been released automatically on licence (as required by law), without ever being referred to the board.

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LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday he would strengthen prison sentences, vowing to boost security after an attack in London by a man jailed for terrorism who had been released early.

Less than two weeks before Britain heads to the polls, law and order has taken top billing since Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, killed two people on Friday before being shot dead by police.

Johnson’s Conservatives have championed tough police and prison measures, but opponents have criticized them for overseeing almost a decade of cuts to public services.

Police officers patrol the scene in central London, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, after an attack on London Bridge on Friday. Authorities in Britain say the convicted terrorist who stabbed to death two people and wounded three others in a knife attack Friday had been let out of prison in an automatic release program. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Johnson said if he won the Dec. 12 election, he would invest more in the prison system and toughen sentences.

LONDON — Three of the five people who were killed or wounded in the London stabbing attack were former Cambridge University students or staff members who had gathered for an event designed to connect graduate students with prisoners, police and the university said Sunday.

“I absolutely deplore the fact that this man was out on the street, I think it was absolutely repulsive and we are going to take action,” he told BBC interviewer Andrew Marr.

He portrayed his rival for prime minister, Jeremy Corbyn, as weak on crime, blaming the Labour Party for a law passed more than a decade ago that provided for some prisoners to be released early automatically.

Khan was a convicted terrorist who had secured early release from prison. He was shot dead by police after he was restrained by civilians. Officers opened fire after he flashed what looked like a suicide vest, but it was a fake device.

Johnson said around 74 people convicted of serious offenses had been released under the legislation, and that they were being monitored to prevent any threat to the public.

Jones family described her as having "a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment program."

Corbyn, a veteran peace campaigner, said convicted terrorists should “not necessarily” serve their full prison terms.

Started five years ago, the program was designed to bring graduate students together with prisoners to study criminology in an effort to reduce stigma and marginalization experienced by many inmates.

“It depends on the circumstances, it depends on the sentence, but crucially it depends on what they’ve done in the prison,” he told Sky News.

Corbyn said Conservative cuts to community policing and to probation, mental health, youth and social services could “lead to missed chances to intervene in the lives of people who go on to commit inexcusable acts.”

Khan’s attack, which took place on London Bridge, stirred memories of the last election in 2017, when three militants killed eight people and injured at least 48 in the same part of the capital.

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On Friday, bystanders wrestled Khan to the ground before police shot him dead. The police found no immediate evidence to suggest Khan had been working with others.

Both were graduates involved in a prisoner rehabilitation program that was organizing a conference that Khan was attending, where he chose to start his attack.

London Bridge attack recasts U.K.s Brexit election with focus on terror

The attack brought a somber tone to a rancorous election campaign, which is presenting voters with a stark choice between Labour, with its promise to raise taxes on the rich and businesses to fund a much expanded state, and the Conservatives’ pledge to “get Brexit done” and move on to other issues. (Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Kevin Liffey)