Fishmongers' Hall: Police 'daunted' by taking on terror offenders

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image copyrightMet Police
image captionSaskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by Usman Khan at the conference on offender rehabilitation

A police officer who monitored the Fishmongers' Hall attacker felt "daunted" by a decision that required his team to watch over convicted terrorists, an inquest has heard.

Sgt Calum Forsyth led the Staffordshire Police team that stayed in touch with Usman Khan after his release from prison in 2018.

Khan, 28, was the second convicted terrorist his team had monitored.

He went on to kill Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones 11 months later in London.

Sgt Forsyth said his team of four Prevent officers, whose job was to steer people away from terrorist activity, were told in 2015 they would manage convicted terrorist offenders in the community.

Their first offender, Mohibur Rahman, was initially convicted alongside Khan in 2012 for plotting a jihadist training camp in Pakistan.

The inquest heard Rahman's management "didn't go well", and he was later recalled to prison where he was jailed for life.

image copyrightMet Police
image captionAfter his release from prison in 2018 Usman Khan lived in a flat in Stafford

When Khan was released, he presented a "very high risk of serious harm" to the public, the inquests at City of London's Guildhall heard.

Sgt Forsyth and his team visited Khan regularly, reporting back to the multi-agency MAPPA panel responsible for managing him.

He said the responsibility to "mentally risk-assess" Khan's actions sat "primarily" with MAPPA and police investigation teams.

image copyrightMetropolitan Police
image captionIn court, Sgt Calum Forsyth said he could not justify sending two people on the train with Usman Khan to "effectively hold his hand"

Jurors heard that Sgt Forsyth and a colleague were asked to accompany Khan on a visit to an event at his old prison, but he said discussion of the trip was "not couched in terms of risk".

Khan was invited to the Learning Together event at Fishmongers' Hall in August 2019.

Sgt Forsyth said he had no issue with Khan attending as he had "nothing really to base an objection on".

image copyrightWest Midlands Police
image captionKhan, from Stafford in the West Midlands, had armed himself with knives and a fake suicide belt for the attack

Minutes of MAPPA meetings in the period before the attack recorded no discussion about risks of Khan attending the event, the inquest heard.

Sgt Forsyth said "nobody objected" to the visit and that he took this to mean there was permission.

In a police statement shown to jurors, Sgt Forsyth said his "main worry" was being asked by MAPPA to accompany Khan to London in November 2019.

image copyrightMet Police
image captionThe Guildhall heard Khan had been wearing a fake suicide vest

In an email, the sergeant told Khan's probation manager: "We wouldn't be in a position to send anyone on the train with Usman as this would require two people to travel with him and that cannot be justified."

It continued: "I have no issue with him attending the event and hope it goes well."

Jurors also heard Sgt Forsyth's assessment concluded there were no indicators Khan would engage in violent activity.

Khan strapped knives to his hands and stabbed five people - Mr Merritt and Ms Jones both fatally - before being chased on to nearby London Bridge where he was shot by armed police.

The inquests continue.

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