Probation officer defends decision not to recall Streatham terrorist
A former probation service worker has defended a decision not to initiate a process to recall Streatham terrorist Sudesh Amman to prison in the days before his attack, despite evidence he had made “concerning” purchases.
Alan Reid said that although there may have been grounds to search the 20-year-old’s probation hostel room, the service did not want to compromise covert police operations.
Amman was shot dead by undercover officers on February 2 2020 after he stabbed two members of the public in Streatham High Road, south London.
He had previously been seen buying items – including four bottles of Irn Bru, parcel tape and tin foil in Poundland – that it was feared could be used to make a hoax suicide belt.
But jurors heard that such purchases – described by Jonathan Hough QC, counsel to the inquest, as “concerning” – had not raised the threshold of concern high enough to warrant initiation of the process to recall him to prison.
Mr Reid, former national security lead for the probation service, said he had spoken to a colleague two days before the attack to discuss responses to Amman’s actions.
“(On Friday 31) I didn’t think there was enough information to recall (Amman) to prison,” he said on Monday, giving evidence to the inquest into Amman’s death.
Mr Reid said the probation service “quite possibly” could have justified a search of Amman’s room at the hostel as “routine”.
“There was certainly scope to do a routine search,” he said.
“(But) the overarching impression that I was left with was that we didn’t want to take any action that would compromise the police operation.”
Rajiv Menon QC, representing Amman’s family, suggested a probation officer’s threshold for initiating the recall to prison was “plainly a modest one”.
The inquest previously heard from Carina Heckroodt, head of the London Extremism Gangs and Organised Crime Unit at the probation service, who also denied it was a “missed opportunity” to recall Amman to prison after his Poundland purchases.
Amman had been released from Belmarsh prison 10 days earlier after serving part of a 40-month sentence for terror offences, despite pleas from police and MI5 to detain him for longer amid concerns that he remained a danger to the public.
Jurors will return for a summing up of the case on Wednesday, after which they will retire to consider their verdicts.
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