The departmental building of the Cambridge University Institute of CriminologyCambridge Institute of Criminology

Content Note: This article contains detailed discussion of terror-related violence and death

It has been confirmed that the fifth anniversary conference of the Learning Together programme, an initiative of the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology, was at the centre of yesterday’s London Bridge terror attack

Two members of the public were killed, and three others hospitalised for injuries sustained during the attack. The attacker, who was wearing a hoax suicide belt, was shot and killed by police at the scene. 

The attacker had been a guest at the Learning Together ‘Five Year Celebration Alumni Event’, which took place at Fishmongers’ Hall, just off London Bridge. The Times reported that he had attended the morning session of the event, and returned just as a creative writing workshop was finishing, at around 2pm, when he began his attack.

He was wearing an electronic tag, a condition of his release from prison last December partway through a sentence for a previous offence of supporting terrorist violence. 

National papers have reported that certain former prisoners, who were  also in attendance at the Learning Together event, were instrumental in stopping the attacker on London Bridge.

The Learning Together programme, according to its website, seeks to “bring together people in criminal justice and higher education institutions to study alongside each other in inclusive and transformative learning communities”. Launched in 2014 by Dr Ruth Armstrong and Dr Amy Ludlow of the Faculty of Criminology, the programme works with 23 partner institutions alongside Cambridge University, and offers courses in over a dozen prisons.

Yesterday’s Learning Together conference, which was described as “a day to celebrate, connect and collaborate”, was attended by prisoners and probation staff, alongside students, academics and practitioners within the fields of criminology and rehabilitation. Everyone who had been involved in a Learning Together partnership across the UK was invited to attend. 

Responding to the incident, a University of Cambridge spokesperson said: “We are gravely concerned at reports that University of Cambridge staff, students and alumni were caught up in the incident at London Bridge.

“We are urgently seeking clarification and further details. Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by these terrible events.”

In a statement published on the University’s website, Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope said: "I am devastated to learn that today's hateful attack on London Bridge may have been targeted at staff, students and alumni attending an event organised by the University of Cambridge's Institute of Criminology. 

“We are in touch with the Metropolitan Police, and awaiting further details of the victims. We mourn the dead and we hope for a speedy recovery for the injured. Our thoughts are with all their families and friends."

The Police have yet to publicly identify the two people killed during the attack, but have asked that those concerned about family or friends get in touch, either by phone or through their online portal.

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