Zara AleenaMet Police

The Labour leader has said that the family of Zara Aleena believe the government has “blood on their hands”.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, attacked and killed the law graduate in Ilford, east London, in June 2022, nine days after his release on licence from prison.

He had been wrongly assessed as medium risk by staff, a probation inspectorate report found on Tuesday.

Asking Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the report, Sir Keir Starmer spoke of the family’s “agony”.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, he said: “I spoke to Zara’s family this morning, it is hard to convey to this house the agony that they have been through.

“They say that the government has ‘blood on their hands’.”

The prime minister said his “heart goes out to them”.

Mr Sunak said “this was a truly terrible crime” and that the failings the chief inspector found “were serious and indeed, unacceptable”.

He added: “In both of the cases that are in the public domain, these failures can be traced to failings in the initial risk assessment, and that’s why immediate steps are being taken to address the serious issues raised.” 

He said that the probation services had taken action where appropriate, adding that the government had made moves to address staff shortages and other issues.

Keir Starmer

The prime minister added: “If we do want to increase the safety of women and girls out on our streets then we need tough sentencing, and that is why this government passed the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, which he opposite and his party opposed.”

Sir Keir countered saying: “In light of case of Zara, I really do not think the primer minister should be boasting about the protection he is putting in place for women.”

He said McSweeney was “not fit to walk the same streets”, adding: “But that’s precisely the problem. He was free to walk the same streets.”

McSweeney was jailed for life last month and ordered to serve a minimum of 38 years in prison.

On Tuesday, Zara’s aunt Farah Naz said her niece would have been alive today if probation “had done their jobs better”.

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Ms Naz described the report as “extremely distressing”, adding her family had “lost a loved member… for absolutely nothing”.

“We’re sad, we’re heartbroken, we’re still traumatised. It’s an effort to be alive,” she said.

She said her family had not received a personal apology from the government or the Probation Service but had only “read it in the paper”.

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