Labour backs calls for public inquiry into Nottingham attacks after ‘serious failings’

Thousands of people attended a vigil at Nottingham's Old Market Square after the killings.
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

The Labour Party supports calls for a public inquiry into the Nottingham attacks, shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has said.

Students Barnaby Webber and Grace O’Malley-Kumar, both 19, and school caretaker Ian Coates, 65, were fatally stabbed by Valdo Calocane on the morning of June 13, 2023.

Calocane went on to seriously injure three pedestrians with Mr Coates’ stolen van.

Nottingham Crown Court was later told Calocane was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time, and had a long history of serious mental health problems.

He was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

His sentence was reviewed after calls from the families of the victims, but in May the Court of Appeal ruled it was not ‘unduly lenient’.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, was the MP for the constituency of Ilford North, where Grace O’Malley-Kumar’s family live, before Parliament was dissolved ahead of the election.

He was asked about their calls for a public inquiry during a visit to Nottinghamshire on Saturday, June 15.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “My heart has been with the families of Grace, Barnaby and Ian.

Nottingham-attacks-victims
Grace O’Malley-Kumar, Barnaby Webber, both 19, and Ian Coates, 65, died in the June 2023 attacks.

“I know Grace’s family and I never want to have to sit around a table again with parents who have lost their children in such horrific circumstances.

“I think there are a number of things we need to do. Firstly I support the families’ call for an inquiry. I think there have been serious failings to date in the prosecution. We have got to learn those lessons.

“I think all the families deserve answers.”

On the one-year anniversary of the attacks last Thursday (June 13), the families said: “As three families we stand united by grief and loss, but fuelled by our anger at the scale of failings, poor policing, weak prosecution, dereliction of duty in medical care and a series of catastrophic missed opportunities that would, and should have stopped these entirely preventable deaths.”

In January, it also emerged Calocane had previously had contact with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire Police, as well as NHS mental health services.

At the time of the attacks, he had been the subject of an arrest warrant for 20 months for an assault on a police officer.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting at Bassetlaw Hospital (LDRS)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Wes Streeting at Bassetlaw Hospital on June 15 2024 (LDRS)

Mr Streeting added: “We have also got to make sure we have got the right mental health support in place.

“Labour has got a number of clear commitments on mental health at this election, whether that is mental health support in every primary and secondary school, 8,500-extra mental health workers to cut waiting lists and community mental health hubs in every community.

“But we also need to look really carefully at reform of the mental health act and make sure that we get the balance right of making sure we have got the right care , at the right time in the right place.

“The killer of Grace, Barnaby and Ian should never have been walking the streets and I never, ever want any other families to go through what those families are going through now.”

The Conservative Party’s manifesto, published ahead of the General Election on July 4, says mental health should have parity of esteem with physical health.

The party says if it wins the election, it will expand support to all schools by 2030, boost capacity of mental health placements and pass a new law to provide better treatment for severe mental health needs in the first session of the next Parliament.

In January then-Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declined the opportunity to back calls for a public inquiry.

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