Cambridge ends Learning Together after London Bridge attack

Review recommends end of prison education programme following ‘unimaginable grief’ caused by 2019 killings of two delegates

January 11, 2022
Senate House, University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge has announced the end of the Learning Together prison education programme in the wake of the “unimaginable grief” caused by the London Bridge terror attack, which unfolded during one of its conferences.

Usman Khan stabbed to death Learning Together delegates Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at Fishmongers’ Hall in November 2019.

The conference was a fifth anniversary celebration for the Cambridge scheme, which brought together offenders and researchers to study alongside each other. Khan had taken part in Learning Together while in prison serving a sentence for earlier terror offences.

After the attack, Khan was chased on to London Bridge by fellow attendees, including a serving and former offender, before he was shot dead by police.

In a statement, the university said the events of that day “were a tragedy for the families who lost loved ones and a traumatic experience for the many others affected”.

Following the attack, the university said a number of working groups had been set up to examine “the safeguarding and risk assessment processes for work with prisoners and ex-offenders across the whole university, and to consider the future of the Learning Together programme at Cambridge”.

A transition board on Learning Together chaired by Baroness Morgan of Huyton, Master of Fitzwilliam College, subsequently recommended that the programme should end, a recommendation approved in December 2021 by the university’s general board and its council, the statement continued.

The university also said that it had “strengthened its policies and process around risk assessment and working with people who have offended”, while “research in prisons continues”.

Cambridge vice-chancellor Stephen Toope said: “The Learning Together Programme helped change many lives for the better. But the London Bridge tragedy caused unimaginable grief.

“As a result, an independent review recommended that the programme be halted. The university council and general board took the decision to follow that recommendation.

“The consequences of violence continue to ripple outwards and create further harm. Today I am thinking again of the families and friends of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, and the Learning Together community, who continue to suffer from the events of that dreadful day.”

john.morgan@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (1)

Whislt the vile attack by this hoodlum - I am not going to write his name - on those who reached out to help him is indeed a tragedy, cancelling the programme is also a tragedy... & giving in to terrorism, as is any change in how we conduct our lives as the result of terrorist threats or actions. More importantly, it deprives many people who otherwise would have benefitted from the opportunity to turn their lives around through the programme. Surely their successes are a better memorial?

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