Concern over decision to house sex offenders at open prison

HM Prison Hollesley Bay Picture: ARCHANT

HM Prison Hollesley Bay Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

People living close to the Hollesley Bay prison have raised concerns about sex offenders being housed there becoming involved in the community.

Villagers in Hollesley say they have been left concerned for the safety of their families after a decision was made to house sex offenders in the prison in the near future.

Parish council representatives confirmed on Wednesday that Hollesley Bay would be housing such offenders - but that this would not be happening until Autumn at the earliest.

As part of their rehabilitation work a number of prisoners from Hollesley Bay often end up working close by and some have worked at local fetes.

Hollesley Parish Council has previously stated that it would be up to the prison itself to decide on the suitability of any prisoners to help in local events.

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Despite this, some local residents have raised concerns about the new offenders being allowed to help in such a way.

Joel Stone is one of those concerned about the impact.

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"We are concerned about the safety of children and families," said Mr Stone.

"There's a public road that goes through it. It's easy for them to get to the nursery and the school.

"There have been absconders on a number of occasions."

READ MORE: Suffolk open prison will house sex offenders in future

Mr Stone said he was concerned about such prisoners being let out into the community, particularly for local events.

"I wouldn't want to take my children there if I knew that sex offenders were helping out," said Mr Stone.

"I don't see why the community should suffer because these people made a choice."

In the past, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who represents the area, spoke to former Prisons Minister, Rory Stewart, about the community's concerns regarding the housing of sex offenders.

A representative for Dr Coffey's said that her office was following up on the decision.

However, the Prison Reform Trust believes that the new prisoners should be given a chance.

Director Peter Dawson, said: "Helping people to prepare for a life outside prison is a vital component in reducing risk, and providing the necessary opportunities to show that they are ready for release.

"Open prisons such as Hollesley Bay provide that support, by helping people to readjust to the world they will eventually be released to, in a controlled and risk-assessed way. This is particularly important for people convicted of offences where social isolation and ostracisation can increase the likelihood of committing further crimes."

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