Paedophiles will not be housed at Hollesley Bay – says prisons minister
- Credit: Archant
Worried villagers were given the reassurance by prisons minister Rory Stewart, who is considering housing some sex offenders at the Suffolk open prison.
During a meeting with the minister, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey asked whether, at the very least, offenders with specific offences against children could be blocked from being housed at Hollesley Bay.
Dr Coffey said Mr Stewart had given assurances that no-one will be put into open conditions in Hollesley Bay if they possess a threat to the primary school.
The MP and the chairman and vice-chairman of Hollesley Parish Council, Helen Lewis and James Mallinder, were told the parole board would make a judgement and the Ministry of Justice then makes its own judgement before a decision is made.
It was also confirmed at the meeting that contrary to what was suggested at the recent public meeting over the issue, the prisoner population of Hollesley Bay would never become 100% sex offenders.
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Dr Coffey said: “I thank the minister for listening, considering the close proximity to the primary school residents have legitimate concerns about sexual offenders being placed in open conditions and it was important to get answers from the minister.
“I understand why the Ministry of Justice are doing this, open prisons are extremely important in helping facilitate a prisoner’s transition back into normal life but I share local concerns, especially in relation to certain categories of sexual offender.”
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Parish council chairman Helen Lewis said: “We appreciated very much the opportunity to meet with Therese Coffey and Rory Stewart at Parliament.
“We came away with a clearer understanding of the proposal for Hollesley Bay and were reassured that this is still under consultation.
“We ask that the concerns of the local community are considered as a priority. Please keep us informed at all times.”
One of the reasons for the change is the massive increase in the number of sex offenders in the prison system – up 4,000 in the past eight years.
People living around Hollesley Bay though have voiced concerns about the prospect of rapists, paedophiles and abusers living in their midst – particularly as a primary school is just a few hundred yards away.