Sex offenders in Suffolk open prison an ‘absolute sham’
Suffolk villagers concerned by the prospect of sex offenders living in their midst are calling for a rethink on the proposals.
Last week, this newspaper revealed Hollesley Bay open prison would begin housing sex offenders nearing the end of their sentences.
The Prison Service confirmed Hollesley was among several open prisons which would be used to accommodate the growing numbers of sex offenders within the criminal justice system.
MORE: Fears over decision to place sex offenders in Suffolk open prisonAssurances were offered that all offenders would be “suitable risk assessed” and there would be no increase in overall prison numbers. However, people in the village say they are angry at the proposals – and lack of consultation.
Father of five Joel Stone said it was an “absolute sham” and has been dealt with in a “very underhanded manner”.
“People are pretty annoyed, to say the least,” he added.
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“There are a lot of people in the village who also work at the prison, so there’s a conflict of interest there. However, no one wants sex offenders in Hollesley.”
Mr Stone pointed out that the prison is just a few hundred yards from a primary school, a popular tourist attraction and a bird reserve. “Yes, these offenders are coming to the end of their sentences, and are said to have been risk assessed,” he added. “But you cannot say it’s safe to have sex offenders in this area.”
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The Prison Service has written to stakeholders, including Hollesley Parish Council, informing them of the decision.
The council said it would be meeting to discuss the most appropriate way to inform residents about the changes.
However, Mr Stone said it needed a full public consultation.
He has highlighted Thorn Cross open prison near Warrington, where a decision to house sex offenders was reversed after thousands of people signed a petition opposing the proposals.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Under this Government more sex offenders are being convicted and going to prison, and spending longer there. Sex offenders are already held successfully at other open prisons but their growing number means we need more of our open prisons to accommodate them, including Hollesley Bay. A wider range of rehabilitation options for these men as they prepare to re-enter society is the best way of minimising the risk to the public.”