Last week, events unfolded which we all knew in theory were possible but which no-one anticipated. The reality of a terror attack occurring is something for which no ordinary member of the public is prepared. However, that is not the case for our police and security services who worked with efficiency, professionalism and enormous courage to do all they could to protect everyone on the sprawling Parliamentary estate – MPs, staff and visitors – whilst dealing with the dawning reality of the unfolding carnage on Westminster Bridge a few yards away.

I was with many other MPs in lockdown inside the chamber itself. Whilst there was a great sense of alarm and dread inside the buildings, no one in lockdown was ever in any real danger. The police worked hard to make sure of that. Indeed, one brave and dedicated police officer, PC Keith Palmer, put himself between the attacker and the entrance to the parliamentary estate, an act of selfless bravery which cost him his life. All of us who believe in democracy and the rule of law owe him a debt of gratitude. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family who must be utterly grief-stricken and bereft at this awful time. PC Palmer showed true heroism in the line of duty. He lived a life dedicated to public service having been a member of the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command for fifteen years and a soldier in the Royal Artillery before that.

As we were released from lockdown once it was deemed safe to leave the Commons, we bade goodnight to the police, still on duty, as they would be during the night. We each and every one of us thanked them. Somehow it seemed so inadequate for all they had done for us on that awful day and would continue to do, day in, day out, regardless of the danger they might face, taking it all in their stride with cool professionalism.

Five people died, including the perpetrator and I am sure all our condolences are with the families of the innocent and their loved ones. With 40 people injured, some severely, the emergency services swung into action with a diligence and commitment that is truly humbling.

The injured come from ten different countries across the globe showing that the consequences of such attacks really do reverberate beyond their specific geographical locations and require all nations across the world to work together to defeat such barbaric acts of terror. The injured include three police officers who were returning from an event to recognise their bravery. Two of these officers remain in a serious condition

The police are now investigating this appalling attack. Hundreds of police and security officers are working to establish everything possible about this outrage, including its preparation, its motivation and whether any associates were involved in its planning. The perpetrator's death makes the police investigation more difficult. However they believe that this attack was inspired the perpetrator’s conversion to radical Islam whilst in prison whilst serving time in prison for violent offences.

In the light of this attack there will be a fresh examination of de-radicalisation programmes designed to stop people being drawn into extremism.

Last week’s events are a stark reminder that all nations which believe in democracy, liberty and free speech must not take these freedoms for granted. The international community is standing together and has condemned these attacks, which are acts of pure evil but which also show the best of us as we come together to stand defiantly in defence of democracy.

Patricia Gibson MP