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Statement from the Commissioner re: London Bridge and Borough inquests

News   •   Jul 16, 2019 16:58 BST

Statement from the Commissioner: "In 2017, London suffered four terrible attacks - three of which claimed the lives of 14 innocent people. Today marks the end of the trials and inquests into those attacks. These events took place during my first year as Commissioner and impacted on the whole of London, everyone in the Met, and well beyond. 

"I would like to thank the Chief Coroner and jury for their diligence in examining the circumstances of what happened on 3 June 2017. Much of the evidence they saw and heard was extremely harrowing.

"I thank also the legal teams, particularly the Met legal team for their efforts before and during this inquest. I would also like to acknowledge the achievements of the investigative team led by Detective Superintendent Becky Riggs and, indeed, everyone in the Counter Terrorism Command who have worked tirelessly under her leadership, and that of Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu, to try to ensure that all relevant evidence was secured and made available to the inquest, to try to support bereaved families and other victims of the attack, and to ensure that any lessons are learned. 

"Most importantly my thoughts and those of the entire policing family are with all the victims, their families and their loved ones. They are also with the many people who have suffered both physical and psychological injuries from the attack as well as all those who have been affected by it – whether they were members of the public or members of the emergency services.

"I welcome today’s verdicts that the armed officers who confronted and shot the three attackers, acted lawfully. I want to pay tribute to the tremendous courage and professionalism they showed that night. Faced with an appalling and confused scene they acted calmly, quickly, decisively and in accordance with their training.

"There is no greater responsibility for an officer than having to make the split-second decision whether or not to use lethal force. Firearms officers are deployed on our streets every day. They frequently confront dangerous people, sometimes armed with knives and other weapons. Every day they respond highly effectively, with professionalism, teamwork, courage and restraint – rarely drawing their weapons, and even more rarely firing them.

"On 3 June 2017, the firearms officers of the City of London Police and Metropolitan Police saved lives. All the officers involved from the three police services of London – both armed and unarmed – should take great pride that, in the face of the most extreme danger, they quickly stopped the three criminals from continuing their murderous attack.

"Tragically, as you know, eight people were still murdered that night: Xavier Thomas, Christine Archibald, Sara Zelenak, James McMullan, Sebastien Belanger, Alexandre Pigeard, Kirsty Boden and Ignacio Echeverria Miralles de Imperial.

"These dreadful events showed us the very worst of humanity, but they also showed us the very best as well. 

"What stood out during these inquests, head and shoulders above all else, were the accounts of tremendous bravery and compassion by the public and emergency services alike. 

"The response that night, under the most extreme and chaotic of circumstances, was quite simply extraordinary. 

"Many people, including our officers, those in the Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service, Kirsty and Ignacio who died in the attack, and many other members of the public gave life-saving first aid and put themselves between the attackers and other members of the public. Without their extraordinary efforts so many more people would have been injured or have died.

"Of course, following a terrible event such as this, we must look to see what lessons can be learned. Indeed, many changes were quickly put in place. We now await the Chief Coroner’s detailed findings, which of course we will consider in full.

"However, it is also the case that as terrorism has evolved over the last decade so has the police and security, preparation and response.

"The Paris attacks in November 2015 was a particular watershed moment. We, the police, and our partners, recognised this shift in threat.

"It was because of this that we had more armed police available across London on the night of 3 June 2017. They were ready and able to respond to the attack. 

"It was because of this that we had well-rehearsed protocols in place between police and our emergency service colleagues so our response was highly coordinated and effective. 

"And it was because of this that many, many people ran and hid from the danger; that staff in local restaurants and bars took immediate action to get their customers to safety and prevented the attackers from being able to kill or injure many more people than they did.

"I have no doubt that because of this preparation in the years before, many lives were saved.

"Those who commit attacks such as this do so intending to cause division, hatred and fear. But the response of the people, of and in this city, was to come together, to help each other, to protect each other and to stand against the hatred of the attackers. 

"It is part of what makes London one of the world’s great cities. Its diversity, its culture, its inclusivity; it’s what makes people from all over the world come to visit, to work or live here and what makes it such a special place. The events of the 3 June 2017, whilst robbing us of eight much loved people who will never be forgotten, have ultimately not changed our city. 

"Thank you very much indeed."