Fears over decision to place sex offenders in Suffolk open prison
Sex offenders nearing the end of their sentences will be housed in a Suffolk open prison for the first time, posing concerns for those living nearby.
The Prison Service has confirmed Hollesley Bay is among several open prisons being used to accommodate the growing numbers of sex offenders in the criminal justice system.
In a letter to Hollesley Parish Council, governor Declan Moore said there would be no increase in prisoner numbers and that all sex offenders would be “suitably risk assessed”.
However, the news has been met with concern from some quarters of the community, particularly over the lack of information.
One Hollesley resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I’ve just found out that Hollesley Bay is going to become a sex offenders’ prison. As a member of the local community, I hadn’t heard anything about this.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has also said the Prison Service could have been more “open and transparent” about the changes.
Although prisons fall outside Mr Passmore’s remit as PCC, he said he had concerns over the potential effect of absconders on the police force. “If prisoners do abscond, and we’ve seen that happen in the past, that’s another burden on Suffolk Constabulary,” he added. “Suffolk already does more than its fair share in working to rehabilitate sex offenders. My concern is that if anything untoward does happen, what will the consequences be for Suffolk police’s already mountainous caseload?”
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Hollesley Parish Council said it would meeting in the next couple of weeks to discuss the most appropriate way to inform residents about the changes.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Under this Government more sex offenders are being convicted and going to prison, and spending longer there. 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 HMP Hollesley Bay. A wider range of rehabilitation options for these men as they prepare to re-enter society is the best way of minimising the risk to the public.”
Christine Block, who represents Hollesley at Suffolk Coastal District Council, said there had always been a “good relationship” between the prison and the local community, which she hoped would continue.