Convicted terrorist Sudesh Amman managed to stab two people while under surveillance because the operations are not “man-to-man marking”, Britain’s most senior police officer has said.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told the London Assembly police and crime committee that a time delay in responding would be “inevitable” if someone did something “totally unexpectedly”.
Amman, 20, was jailed for three years and four months for possessing and distributing terrorist documents in December 2018, then freed automatically halfway through his sentence.
He was put under 24-hour police surveillance after his release on January 23, with an armed police team tailing him on the day of the attack.
Wearing a fake suicide belt, he grabbed a knife from a shop in Streatham High Road, south London, before stabbing two bystanders on Sunday.
Giving evidence to the committee on Wednesday about general tactics used by counter-terror police, Dame Cressida said: “They are conducting covert surveillance, so they are not of course providing man-to-man marking.
“They are there covertly and that is a deliberate thing.
“It is inevitable that there could be a time delay before somebody totally unexpectedly does something.”
The Daily Mail reported that up to 20 officers would have been involved in watching Amman.
Dame Cressida added: “I wish I could assure the public that everybody who poses a risk on the streets could be subject to some sort of thing that would stop them being able to stab anybody ever, but it is clearly not possible.”
A team of 75 officers is working to gather evidence for the coroner about Amman’s rampage.
Watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct is also investigating how he came to be fatally shot, as is standard when any police operation ends in a death.