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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Home Secretary writes to the people of Reading

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Ministerial opinion

Home Secretary Priti Patel has written exclusively to readers of the Reading Chronicle after the Forbury Gardens terror attack.

Three innocent members of the public were murdered on Saturday as they enjoyed their summer evening with friends in Forbury Gardens. A further three victims were treated in hospital.

This was a despicable attack, and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was hurt or killed, their families and all those affected. I know I speak on behalf of the whole Government in sending our heartfelt condolences.

I was humbled and honoured to visit Reading on Monday morning to hear first-hand from the outstanding officers who were faced with a dreadful and traumatic scene on Saturday.

Our brave police officers truly are the best of us, risking their own lives to run towards danger, not away from it.

A young unarmed officer tackled the armed suspect to the ground and arrested him within five minutes of the first call.

Their colleagues joined members of the public in helping tend to the wounded. They are heroes.

I pay tribute to the emergency services that attended the scene, as well as members of the public who stepped in. You have made your town and your nation proud.

Sadly, many people will have witnessed these harrowing scenes or will know someone who tragically lost their life.

The people of Reading must pull together to support the victims, their families, friends, colleagues and neighbours following this tragic incident.

The effects of trauma can often be felt for months so we must all look out for one another, whether that’s an empathetic ear, practical support like making meals, or a simple message that you are thinking of them.

A 24/7 helpline is run by independent charity Victim Support and is free to call on 0808 168 9111. There is also extensive guidance online about how you can look after the welfare of yourself and others.

Police and security services are pursuing an active and complex investigation. We must give them the time and space to get on with their job.

Separately, this Government will continue to pursue every option available to tackle the terrorist threat and to take dangerous criminals off our streets.

And, as the Prime Minister reiterated on Sunday, the police and security services will continue in their investigations to better understand the circumstances of this tragic incident, and if further action is needed, we will not hesitate.

Finally, I want to say directly to the people of Reading that I understand how hard this has hit your community.

This much-loved park was at the heart of many happy memories.

But as the police have set out, a suspect remains in custody, and there is nothing to suggest anyone else was involved.

So I call upon you to continue with your day-to-day lives. Stay alert, but do not be alarmed. Meet your loved ones. Support local businesses. We must refuse to allow those who seek to divide us to succeed.

And my message to you is this - justice will be done, victims will be supported and if further action is needed to stop terrorists in their tracks, this Government will not hesitate to act.

Priti Patel, Home Secretary

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