Crunch meeting announced to quiz chiefs on plans to house sex offenders in Suffolk open prison
Prison chiefs will be quizzed about controversial proposals to admit sex offenders to a Suffolk open facility at a crunch meeting next month.
Hollesley Parish Council confirmed yesterday the meeting had been scheduled to go ahead at the village hall on Friday, September 14.
It follows growing concerns in the community over proposals for Hollesley Bay open prison to begin accommodating sex offenders.
Despite assurances from the Prison Service that offenders would be “suitably risk assessed”, the proposals have led to widespread criticism.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey have both highlighted concerns – and a petition has been launched opposing the changes.
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Last week, parish clerk Judi Hallett wrote an open letter on behalf of the Wilford Peninsula community to Hollesley governor Declan Moore, asking him to attend the meeting and address “grave concerns” over the plans.
In the invitations sent yesterday, Ms Hallett confirmed Mr Moore would attend the meeting, which is to take place from 6.30pm.
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Key figures invited to attend include prisons minister Rory Stewart, Dr Coffey, county councillor Andrew Reid and district councillor Christine Block. Representatives from Hollesley Primary School, Suffolk Constabulary and the surrounding parish councils have also been invited.
The open letter sent to Mr Moore last week said: “The local community is gravely concerned by this apparent decision, made without consultation or notice, and the seeming lack of due process and risk assessment in coming to this decision.”
The letter raised 11 questions for the prison service to answer, relating to how the decision was made, the consultation that took place, and what risks were identified. The proximity of a primary school, and the public road running through the prison grounds were also highlighted.
The Prison Service said: “We offer a range of programmes in prison to people convicted of sexual offences which assist them to address the issues in their lives that led to them offending in the first place. 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.”