Suffolk: Outrage after sex offenders have treatment delayed for six months due to staff sickness
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk’s police commissioner and one of the county’s MPs have both expressed their disbelief after discovering a treatment programme for sex offenders was delayed for six months.
Probation officers have said the course was deferred due to staff sickness. However, during the six-month delay one of the offenders - convicted paedophile Daniel Veness - sexually abused a five-year-old girl.
Although Veness’ case was reported last month, a Freedom of Information request has now revealed five other convicts were also due to be on the Thames Valley Treatment Programme at the same time.
The admission has led Waveney MP Peter Aldous to brand the situation as unacceptable, while Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore called it “absolutely ridiculous”.
However, Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Service said there was no specific requirement as to how quickly someone should begin the treatment, only that they should complete it by the end of their sentence.
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Mr Aldous was already taking Veness’ case up at Government level, and pledged to bring the latest development to the attention of ministers.
He said: “I think it is highly unsatisfactory. I am very surprised and extremely disappointed that this information has come to light.
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“If an offence is serious enough for someone to go on a treatment programme that should be carried out as soon as practically possible after their sentencing.
“I think in this instance a delay of six months before the course was reconstituted is not acceptable.”
Mr Passmore added: “I find this approach quite extraordinary. As far as I am concerned as Police and Crime Commissioner one of the key roles is to look at the accountability and the public interest.
“While this delay may be within the law I would have thought common sense should have prevailed here and the required course or treatment would have been done straightaway.
“I don’t understand why the course should have been delayed for six months. I find the whole process absolutely ridiculous.”
Veness, 23, of St George’s Road, Pakefield, was originally ordered to receive treatment after 600 child porn pictures were found on his computer.
Jailing Veness for two years and eight months for his latest crime at Ipswich Crown Court last month, Judge David Goodin branded him a danger to young girls.
He said it was “a matter of great regret” that two years into a three-year order the treatment programme imposed for his original offence had not started.
The judge added the Thames Valley Treatment Programme had been an important part of the three-year community order imposed in March 2011 after Veness had admitted sexual touching, two offences of taking indecent pictures of a child, downloading indecent images of children, breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and failing to notify police of a change in his address under the terms of the Sex Offenders’ Register.
A probation service investigation into the Veness case has now been forwarded on to the National Offender Management Service.