An inquest jury has found that 14-year-old Alice Gross was unlawfully killed when she died in 2014. Alice is believed to have been killed by Arnis Zalkans, who had come to the UK from Latvia and had previously been convicted of murdering his ex-wife in Latvia.
Alice’s family have called for careful, targeted reform of the system used by governments to exchange information about high-risk offenders across Europe. One outcome of Alice’s death is that the way in which information is shared about criminal convictions across Europe has been improved. It was discovered that before Alice’s death, police forces were largely unaware that they could exchange details of people’s criminal convictions under EU law. Now, when a foreign national is arrested, the Metropolitan police perform those checks and it is understood that other police forces across the UK are moving towards 100% checks.
Alice’s parents have been adamant that those with an anti-immigration agenda should not exploit her death: Alice believed in freedom of movement and human rights and her parents have continuously requested that her beliefs are honoured.
The family used the Human Rights Act, which the current government has promised to scrap, to obtain an Article 2 inquest. This meant that the inquest investigated what the authorities knew, or should have known, about Alice’s murderer and the systems available for the authorities to find out about Zalkans’ background.
Responding to the verdict, Alice’s parents Ros Hodgkiss and Jose Gross said:
“Like Alice, our family is in favour of freedom of movement and all the good things it has brought to our lives. We do not believe that any citizen deserves to be treated differently based on their race or nationality.
“Our only concern has been to ensure that there are fair and proportionate rules governing the movement of serious criminals within Europe, whether that is a Latvian coming to the UK or a dangerous UK citizen travelling abroad.”
Alice’s family was represented by Rajeev Thacker of Garden Court Chambers’ Inquests Team. Rajeev was instructed by Emma Norton of Liberty. More information about the inquest can be found in Liberty’s press release.
Following the conclusion of the inquest, the Gross family would like to encourage people to donate to Alice's Youth Music Fund.