Parish council finally sees advice on Hollesley Bay sex offenders

Hollesley Parish Council has now received information about sex offenders transferred to the prison

Hollesley Parish Council has now received information about sex offenders transferred to the prison in the village. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Hollesley Parish Council has now finally received a document from the Ministry of Justice outlining why the prison service decided it was safe to transfer some sex offenders to the Suffolk open prison two years ago.

The heavily-redacted document was released by the MoJ after a long battle and an appeal to the government’s Information Commissioner. It was finally released last week – and contains instructions to officials on what to say about the decision after they received press enquiries or requests for information from local MP Dr Therese Coffey.

In the section detailing information to be given to MPs, it says: “The safety of the public is our highest priority. The ability to test men in open conditions as they approach the end of their sentence is often a critical step in their reintegration into society.

“The risk assessment of all prisoners is undertaken on a case by case basis and the re-categorisation process places primacy on risk of harm to the public. The prisoner must be able to demonstrate that he has reduced the risk of harm to the public or of escape/abscond sufficiently to warrant re-categorisation to a lower security category.

“The prisoners will be subject to a robust risk assessment in line with all prisoners held at this prison. Some prisoners may be allowed out of the prison on licence for resettlement purposes. These are strictly controlled and approved by prison staff. All prisoners will be required to comply with individual licence conditions.”

The 2018 document also says that there were 4,000 more men in prison after being convicted of sexual offences than there had been in 2010 – but that included a significant number considered to be a low risk. Meanwhile, sentences were 20% longer than they had been in 2010 – which all meant that it was necessary to move some low risk offenders to open prisons like Hollesley Bay.

The document also said those figures should be relayed in press enquiries about the decision.

It has taken a long battle for Hollesley Parish Council to get hold of a copy of the document, which will be discussed at its next meeting - scheduled to take place online by Zoom on June 18. The council has put the full letter from the MoJ on its website for the public to read.