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Nottingham Incident

Volume 734: debated on Wednesday 14 June 2023

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about the horrific events in Nottingham.

Nottinghamshire police have confirmed that a 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after three people were killed in Nottingham city centre early on Tuesday morning. The same individual is suspected of stealing a van and then running over another three people who are now being treated for their injuries, one of whom remains in critical condition. We know that a knife has been used in these attacks. Two of the victims were students at Nottingham University. The third victim was the owner of the van that the police suspect was stolen and used to run down those pedestrians.

I know that the whole House will join me in expressing our sorrow and that our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families, friends and all those affected. All of us extend the hand of friendship to the people of Nottingham. I am of course being kept fully informed by law enforcement on the ground and receiving regular updates.

The House will appreciate the critical importance of following due process at all times. It is completely natural to seek answers immediately when something terrible happens, but it is also vital that those answers are wholly accurate. Speculating out loud is never helpful and runs the risk of being counterproductive. The police have asked for patience while inquiries continue.

I can tell the House that the police are working flat out to establish the full facts and provide support to everyone affected. They are currently keeping an open mind as to the motives behind these attacks, but I can confirm that Nottinghamshire police are being assisted in their inquiries by counter-terror police, although this does not mean that it is currently being treated as a terrorist attack. I am grateful to all our emergency services for being on the scene and dealing in a professional manner with a deeply distressing situation; we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

At awful moments like these, it is vital that we come together as a country and I have no doubt that we will. The city of Nottingham and all its people are at the forefront of all our minds, and every resource of the state is at their disposal. I commend this statement to the House.

I thank the Home Secretary for her statement and for advance sight of it. I join her and the whole House in expressing our deep sorrow and shock at this truly awful attack.

The families of those who have been killed have expressed their tributes to their lost loved ones, and I join them in paying tribute to Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar, two young, talented students who had hugely promising futures ahead of them. We have seen the tributes from their heartbroken families and from the local and national sports clubs they played for. We also pay tribute to Ian Coates, a school caretaker. We have also seen the tributes from his family and from the school he worked for, which said he, “always went the extra mile.” Our condolences, thoughts and prayers go to their families, their loved ones, their friends and their colleagues.

Our thoughts and best wishes also go to the three other people who have been injured in the same terrible attack and to their families, who will be so deeply distressed at what has happened, worrying for their loved ones. We stand in solidarity with the people of Nottingham and the University of Nottingham, where the two young people were studying. They are all so shocked and devastated at what has happened, but also so determined to come together in the face of tragedy. People who gathered at the vigil last night heard the sober words and tributes from the council leader, local MPs and local faith and community leaders. Everyone will particularly join in thanks to the emergency services that have had to respond to this awful attack, saving lives and keeping people safe.

As the Home Secretary said, an individual has been arrested and this is still a major, ongoing investigation. It is not appropriate for us to speculate or say anything that would interfere in that investigation, but I welcome the involvement of counter-terror police at an early stage of this investigation. That does nothing to pre-empt any conclusion about the potential motive behind this attack, but I have previously raised the importance of having CT police expertise involved at an early stage while motives and circumstances are investigated, rather than being brought in at a much later stage, once relevant material has been gathered.

Can the Home Secretary confirm it is a sensible approach for the expertise and assistance of counter-terror police to be drawn on at an early stage, even before any conclusion has been reached? Can she tell us whether she has been given any timetable for updates on the issue? She will know there are wider concerns about the need for properly co-ordinated and appropriate sensitive support for the victims of major incidents, including terror attacks. Can she set out what support is available for the families and friends of those affected, and for the emergency services and people in Nottingham?

Doubtless there will be countless more questions from the community and Parliament once more is known about this dreadful attack but, for now, we send our support to Nottinghamshire police and their investigation. All our thoughts and solidarity go to those who have lost loved ones and to the people of Nottingham at this difficult time.

I thank the right hon. Lady for her comments and for the sentiment with which she makes them. Nottinghamshire police are leading the investigation, which is at a very early stage. They have carried out a number of searches and inquiries across the city, and they will continue to gather evidence over the coming days. Police and other agencies are working flat out to establish the full facts and to provide support to everyone affected. As I said, the police have asked for time, space and patience while those inquiries continue. I am being kept regularly updated by the police and agencies on the ground.

The families of all the victims have been informed and are being supported by specialist police officers. As there are casualties and three fatalities, there is a real need for emergency care for those families, as would be imagined, and specialist support is being put on for those directly affected. I echo the sentiment of the House, as expressed by the Prime Minister: we are all saddened and shocked, and our hearts are with those affected: the victims, their families, friends and communities, and the city of Nottingham.

When a despicable incident of this sort occurs, be it at the gates of Parliament or on the streets of a university town, the community looks to the security agencies to be able to investigate and establish the motives for the attack, the background of the attack and whether any other people were involved. Does the Home Secretary agree that it is therefore both important and understandable that the intelligence community has the capacity to investigate people’s online life and the high-tech companies that provide these communications services have a duty, both morally and legally, to co-operate with the security community, so that horrible episodes such as this can be fully investigated and the findings established?

My right hon. Friend makes some very pertinent observations. The emergency services work together to respond to suspected terrorist attacks, through the joint emergency services interoperability principles—JESIP—which are designed to improve joint working among all the emergency services. The JESIP doctrine complements the single-service and specialist multi-agency guidance. When a particular attack has an online element, which he refers to, we will enact our crisis response protocol, an element of practice that has been designed to deal with situations of that character.

I thank the Home Secretary for advance sight of her statement. On behalf of the SNP, may I extend our condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Barnaby Webber, Grace Kumar and Ian Coates? Our thoughts are also with those injured and the people of Nottingham more widely. I would also like to express our thanks to all the emergency services and those providing ongoing support to those affected at this time. What more is being done to provide reassurance to all parts of the community in Nottingham and to prevent the spreading of speculation, which she mentioned in her statement? I appreciate that things are at a very early stage, but what process will she put in place to ensure that all lessons are learned from this shocking incident so that it cannot happen again?

Nottinghamshire police, working with local authorities and agencies, are working intensively to ensure not only that the investigation work is carried out effectively, but that those directly affected by this terrible incident are getting all the support they are entitled to.

Yesterday’s horrific attacks in Nottingham city have devastated our county. Three innocent lives have been lost, and I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the families of those who have died and my thoughts to those who are injured. I thank the emergency services for the work they have done. The town of Beeston in my constituency has a large student population. They and many members of the public will be feeling shaken and afraid. I ask the Secretary of State for reassurances that all will be done to support the families, our student population and our communities at this very difficult time.

It is particularly galling that a vibrant, youthful university community will be so tragically affected by this tragic incident. The university is supporting the students’ family and friends, as well as staff and the student body. It is working closely with the authorities on the ongoing investigation into the incident. The Secretary of State for Education has been in touch with the vice-chancellor of the university to offer any support that might be needed from the Department for Education.

I thank the Home Secretary for making this statement today and for the information that she has been able to pass on to the House. I look forward to further updates in the coming weeks. I also extend my thoughts and prayers to all those who were killed and injured, and their families and friends. Of course, we all recognise the vital role of the emergency services in dealing with these very fast-moving incidents. Can the Home Secretary say whether she has identified any additional support that Nottinghamshire police need at this time?

I am in personal and regular contact with the chief constable of Nottinghamshire police, and I have made that offer very clear to her. We stand ready here at the Home Office to help in whatever way she requests, but, to date, this operation is being led very effectively by the chief constable and her team in Nottinghamshire.

As a proud Nottinghamian, I have to say that it has been a very difficult couple of days for us all, particularly for those who represent people in the areas affected. Will the Home Secretary join me in praising the emergency services for the work they have done and for reacting so quickly? Will she also praise not just the whole community of Nottingham, but our students and our universities, and join with us as a House to do everything that we can to support them going forward?

My hon. Friend speaks for his constituents and the people of Nottinghamshire when he sets out our thanks, admiration and gratitude for those on the frontline and in the emergency services who are responding right now to the tragic consequences of this terrible incident. They are heroes and we must thank them day after day for their fantastic work.

I send my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims of yesterday’s attacks and wish a full recovery to those injured. I also thank those in the emergency services who have been working tirelessly in responding to this tragic incident, including the first responders who battled to save lives at the scene. Nottingham is devastated by the deaths of three residents of our city: Grace Kumar, Barnaby Webber and Ian Coates. It was incredibly moving to join the vigil yesterday at St Peter’s church where hundreds of people came together in grief. Among them were many students who lost two much-loved members of their community. Will the Home Secretary join me in paying tribute to the people of Nottingham and to their unity and resilience at this painful time?

The hon. Lady speaks with passion and care for her constituents and I echo the sentiment that she has expressed. The people of Nottingham will be shaken beyond belief over the events of the past few days. We are with them as a nation. We stand by them and with them, and we will support them in all ways that they need.

Nottingham is a great city with a proud history and a bright future, so to see that these crimes have unfolded across my home city has been deeply upsetting. I am sure the whole House will join me in sending the deepest condolences to the victims, their families and friends and the injured. I thank the police and the emergency services for the work that they have done and will continue to do. As we begin to take stock and to cope with what has happened, I know that support is available for those who have been affected from Nottinghamshire Victim CARE service, for example. Will the Home Secretary join me in encouraging those who have been affected in any way to seek the support that they need as we begin to take stock and to begin that slow process of recovery from this dreadful incident?

There has been a magnificent response from the local authorities and the local emergency services. There is a wide range of extensive support on offer for the families and those who are affected by the incident. Those who are affected should not hesitate to get in touch with the local authorities to seek that support.

Everyone in Nottingham was shocked by yesterday’s senseless attacks. Barnaby and Grace were just walking home after a night out. Ian appears to have been on his way to work. Today, many people in our community are feeling incredibly frightened, fearful even to walk down their own street. Will the Home Secretary give a commitment to our city that she will ensure that Nottinghamshire police have the resources they need not only to keep our city safe, but to provide all our residents with the reassurance that they need to live their lives without fear today and in the weeks and months ahead?

I thank the hon. Lady for her words. She is absolutely right: the people of Nottingham will feel grief, fear and profoundly disturbed by what has happened in their homes, their places of work and where they come from. It will affect people in many, many ways. We want to keep them safe. That is my job. That is the police’s job. That is why the police are working intensively right now not only to secure the environment, but to make sure that an investigation is conducted effectively. We need to support them in their work.

I speak as a man who has lived in Nottinghamshire all his life. Nottingham is a beautiful city with wonderful people. I doubt that the people of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire will ever come to terms with this vile and cruel act. The public want answers, but, more importantly, they need to know that they are safe on the streets of Nottinghamshire. What reassurances can the Home Secretary give to the people of Ashfield, the whole of Nottinghamshire and Nottingham city especially that they are safe and that the police are getting all the resources that they need?

People can feel safe in Nottingham going forward. I know that that is difficult for many people to feel in the immediate aftermath of a terrible incident of the type that we have just seen. They must know that the police are working flat out to get to the bottom of this. Ultimately, we all want justice. We are also backing the police and all the other professionals to ensure that they can do their operational work as effectively as possible.

Our community has been shaken by these devastating events. Yesterday, we stood together at a vigil in St Peter’s church. It was a sad and poignant act of reflection for the loss and pain that our city is feeling. Our city’s thoughts are with those who have lost their lives, their loved ones and those who have been injured, and our gratitude is with our emergency services.

Nottingham is a beautiful and vibrant city. We are a diverse community where people of every culture and background live together peacefully. That cohesion will be more important than ever. We will need our partnerships that characterise that cohesion to come together—the faith community, civil society, academic institutions that have been so rocked by the loss of members of their family, our statutory services and the public more widely. Will the Home Secretary commit her Department’s support to these important efforts?

I say simply, yes. The hon. Gentleman speaks with devotion and care for his residents and constituents. Frankly, there are no words to describe the pain and anguish that people in Nottingham are feeling right now. But, exactly as he says, communities, faith groups and professionals coming together to support one another in a spirit of recovery and unity is the way that we will rebuild from this.

Many Erewash residents work and socialise in Nottingham. In fact, just last Friday I drove to Nottingham along the Ilkeston Road, where two young people who had such bright futures ahead of them sadly lost their lives. I know the area very well. I know, too, that Erewash residents will want to extend their thoughts and prayers to everybody affected—the victims and their families and also the wider population of Nottingham. What more can be done to support the people who are perhaps hidden victims, who will not necessarily come forward for support—so perhaps not the students or the ones who were there at the time, but those who are now fearful to go out, to go to work or to go into the city centre? Will my right hon. and learned Friend look at ways to extend that support out of the community, and to make that support very visual and accessible as well?

My hon. Friend makes a good point. There will be hidden victims and those in the shadows, so to speak, who will be profoundly affected by what has happened. It is important that they come out of the shadows and seek support—and it is there: the local authority is working intensively to ensure that the right support is provided for people, the medical services are there if people need extra care and of course the law enforcement services are working intensively to ensure a good and effective police investigation.

I thank the Home Secretary for her statement. On behalf of my party, the Liberal Democrats, I want to pass on our deepest condolences to everyone affected by this horrific incident, our thanks to all the emergency services and, most especially, our thoughts and prayers to the families who have lost precious loved ones. When you send your child off to university, it is with hope, pride and excitement for the future. That it should have ended this way for the Webber and Kumar families is horrific, and our thoughts are with them. As the Home Secretary says, it is too early for speculation, but can she reassure the House that, when we know what was at the root of this incident, we will learn every lesson possible from it and ensure that the families feel that justice has been done for them?

I am personally very moved listening to the hon. Lady. What those families must be feeling, going through and experiencing right now is unimaginable for most of us; it is the nightmare that every parent dreads. We need to allow the police to complete their investigation, but, subject to what they unearth and put forward, yes, of course, every victim of crime wants to see justice done. That is ultimately what the rule of law is about.

I align myself completely with everything that has been said about the people of Nottingham and the difficulties they are going through now, but Grace O’Malley-Kumar, one of the two student victims, was resident in Woodford. I remember she had been part of Woodford Wells cricket and hockey club—and she was a star: England under-16s, England under-18s, and destined for a great future. It is very important to remember that not only are the communities in Nottingham and the families affected, but all those people who got to know her and had high hopes for her will have had those dashed as well. Can we make sure there is a degree of outreach to all those people who worked with her and helped her to grow? The terrible devastation of this terrible act is not just a lost life, but a lost future that might have changed other lives for the better.

My right hon. Friend puts it powerfully. The ripple effects of this tragedy will be felt far and wide, and it will take considerable time for many people to recover and move on with their lives. This is a tragedy of an enormity that the people of Nottingham have not seen, but it is also a tragedy for many other groups and communities around the country.

I thank the Home Secretary very much for her statement and her clear compassion for those who grieve today. It is heartbreaking to hear of the tragedy and the cruel, vicious, devastating deaths of two young aspiring students and a man in his 50s. On behalf of the Democratic Unionist party and myself, I send our sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of all the victims and to the good people of Nottingham. Fear stalks the streets of the United Kingdom, so will the Home Secretary ensure that any details relating to the motivation behind the attack will be revealed to the general public, so that future predators and murderers can be identified and swift action can be taken to preserve life?

Decisions such as that are for the police. Once they establish the facts, if and when they bring charges and if there is an ensuing prosecution, the facts will be aired in the proper course of justice.

Nottingham is usually thought of as a vibrant city, full of joy and excitement, and it is close to my own constituency. On behalf of the people of Loughborough, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the city, to the families, to the Nottingham Members of Parliament and to everyone who has been involved in or impacted by this shocking and senseless act. Will the Home Secretary join me in underlining the fact that the whole House is united in condemnation of what has happened?

Absolutely. This tragedy, this despicable act, cannot be condoned but must be condemned in the strongest possible way, and I think on that this House is united.

I draw attention to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, which shows that I am a member of the board of Essex Cricket, based in my Chelmsford constituency. Grace O’Malley-Kumar played cricket for Essex from the under-11s to the under-15s and was highly talented with bat and ball. She captained the team. She was a massive talent, a respected captain and an awesome teammate. The club is devastated. I know Barnaby Webber was also a very keen and talented sportsman with a great future. I am sure that there are people all over the country who played at the England level with Grace and played cricket with Barnaby and who will miss them so deeply. As well as sending our condolences and our love to their families and friends at university, please can we also remember all those young people who shared their love of sport?

My right hon. Friend speaks very powerfully on behalf of those affected at the cricket club. All I will say is that she mentioned the word love, and she is right: we are sending our love to the families, the friends and all those people who knew the victims.

Obviously at this time we all express our condolences to the families, friends and everyone who knew the victims of this terrible tragedy. It would not be right for any of us to speculate on the motives or rationale for such a dreadful attack, but one clear issue that will be of concern to the people of Nottingham and beyond is whether they are safe now. Did this individual act alone, or in concert with others who will then represent a threat to other people? Will the Home Secretary give an assurance to this House that, as soon as the police are able to inform the House of the position, she will relay that widely? Will she also, once the investigations are complete, update the House on the reasons and rationale for this attack and what the history of the individual may have been?

Nottinghamshire police are doing a good job of regularly updating the public and have already made several public statements as the investigation progresses. I do not want to look behind that or undermine that process. I must allow them to carry out their investigations in the fullest and safest way possible. We would not expect anything less of our police.

On behalf of everybody in the new city of Southend, I want to pay tribute to all those who are senselessly murdered and offer our sincere condolences to the victims’ families and friends. I hear that we must not jump to conclusions, but we do know that a knife was used in these attacks, and I know that tackling knife crime is one of the Home Secretary’s top priorities, which is why she has recently been consulting on reforming our knife laws. Will she use this opportunity to underline that commitment, and possibly to give an update on the consultation and when it might be published and implemented?

My hon. Friend speaks with considerable power in expressing her condolences towards those affected by this tragic incident. The Government have made £130 million available this year to tackle serious violence, including murder and knife crime. We have increased powers in particular pieces of legislation. Fundamentally, however, this is about a tragedy, and we must keep working relentlessly to ensure that incidents such as this do not happen again. That is what we are working to do at the Home Office.

I think the House is always its best when it comes together, and it has certainly come together today. We all pay our respects to those who have died and all our thoughts are with the victims, the families and those people who have suffered in the city of Nottingham.