Minister urged to tell Nottinghamshire Police to 'get their act together' over attacks handling

Emma Webber, pictured alongside Dr Sanjoy Kumar and James Coates outside Nottingham Crown Court after Valdo Calocane was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order
Emma Webber, pictured alongside Dr Sanjoy Kumar and James Coates outside Nottingham Crown Court after Valdo Calocane was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order -Credit:Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post

Emma Webber, whose son Barnaby was fatally stabbed in the Nottingham attacks, says she 'can't believe' Nottinghamshire Police Chief Constable Kate Meynell is still in post. Mrs Webber was speaking during an appearance on ITV's Good Morning Britain in which she described the leadership of the force as 'poor' and 'dreadful'.

Mrs Webber, Dr Sanjoy Kumar - father of Grace O'Malley Kumar - and James Coates, son of Huntingdon Academy caretaker Ian Coates, all reiterated their wish for a public inquiry into the killings carried out by Calocane on June 13, 2023.

GMB host Ed Balls quizzed Policing Minister Chris Philp on the matter, saying: "Unless you have an overarching inquiry, we aren't going to get to the truth. Can you speak to Nottinghamshire Police and tell them to get their act together? Because the way they're behaving is unacceptable."

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To which Mr Philp replied: "I will speak to Nottinghamshire Police; my own approach to these [things], as a constituency MP and as a minister, is that I do meet families who have been bereaved and I encourage colleagues to do so. And, as you know, the Prime Minister and other ministers have met the families concerned in this awful case as well.

"I think it's important that all of us in public life are open to speaking to people."

Mr Balls, former Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, said that the handling of the case by the police in Nottinghamshire was "undermining confidence in policing". Mr Philp said: "There are these investigations that are going on: the Independent Office of Police Conduct, the College of Policing. It is important we get to the bottom of the issues. That's why those investigations are happening."

The IOPC is investigating Nottinghamshire Police for their handling of the investigation following Calocane's stabbings, their previous interactions with the killer, and their failure to catch him during a nine-month period when he was subject to an arrest warrant.

The watchdog is also looking into Leicestershire Police's contact with Calocane after claims the force missed an opportunity to apprehend him just weeks before the attacks.

It comes after the families of the victims said they “face their own life sentence” of ensuring Calocane “is never released” after the Court of Appeal ruled his sentence was not “unduly lenient”. Three senior judges ruled on Tuesday (May 14) that Calocane’s indefinite hospital order was “not arguably unduly lenient”, saying the court could not ignore medical evidence related to Calocane’s paranoid schizophrenia.

The Attorney General referred the sentence to the Court of Appeal in February, with lawyers arguing that Calocane, 32, should have been given a “hybrid” order, where he would be treated in hospital before serving the remainder of the sentence in custody.

The families called for assurance on GMB that Calocane will never be freed. "We need something in black and white. I think for public safety, you need something in black and white that says this man is not coming out and we've not had that," said Dr Kumar.

James Coates added: "In my eyes, there's no punishment for what he's done. He's now being treated for his mental health, which he has every right to. But when he's treated, where does the punishment come in? Where does he pay for the crimes that he's done, like everyone else would have done."

Speaking previously, Assistant Chief Constable Rob Griffin, who has led the overall policing response to the attacks, said: "The devastating impact that the events of 13 June have had and continue to have for the families of those killed and those that survived these dreadful attacks are immeasurable.

“I have personally reviewed this matter and we should have done more to arrest him. In my opinion it is highly unlikely that he would have received a custodial sentence for the alleged assault [on a police officer, for which a warrant was issued for Calocane's arrest in September 2022).

“Of course, an arrest may have triggered a route back into mental health services, but as we have seen from his previous encounters with those services, it seems unlikely that he would have engaged in this process. On June 13, we acted fast and efficiently to take this dangerous offender off the streets of Nottingham.

“We referred ourselves to the IOPC after his arrest. This was because in the minutes before his arrest he was being followed by a police vehicle and ran over two pedestrians. This is a standard procedure when a crime occurs while a defendant is being followed by police. The IOPC investigated this matter and said we followed all relevant guidelines.

“This was one of the darkest days in our city’s history and our officers will continue to support all those families affected by this horrific crime.”