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Stephen Ayre

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

Andrew Bridges, the chief inspector of probation, has already examined the serious case review into the case; it was conducted by the West Yorkshire strategic management board for multi-agency public protection arrangements, or MAPPA. I had discussions with Mr. Bridges yesterday and he confirmed that the shortcomings in practice were properly evident in the review. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice has asked Mr. Bridges for an assessment, based on two inspections, of the quality of the supervision of offenders such as Mr. Ayre by the area MAPPA system. Mr. Bridges is completing that assessment.

As the Minister will know, Stephen Ayre was a convicted murderer who was let out of prison and who, three years ago, after repeated mistakes by the probation service, raped and abducted a 10-year-old boy in my constituency. The Secretary of State talks a lot about how he will put the victims at the centre of his Department. However, despite having met the father of the victim, he still refuses to release the internal report into the case—even to the family, let alone the public. As the Secretary of State knows, the parents cannot feel that they can get over what happened to their son until they have seen the full report. If the right hon. Gentleman will not release the full report to the family, the least that he could do is ask the chief inspector of probation to produce a report and put it in the public domain to help the family get over that appalling incident.

We all accept that it was an appalling episode. The purpose of any review is to identify faults. The chief inspector of probation is clear that the faults have been identified. Indeed, the overview report was presented to the young victim’s father.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Secretary of State has taken a personal interest; he met the victim’s father on 18 June 2008. A number of things flowed from that: expedited support and counselling for the victim; an overview report to be prepared by the West Yorkshire MAPPA and shared with the victim’s father; and the inspection by staff from the National Offender Management Service public protection unit of a sample of cases in west Yorkshire to ensure that they are being well managed. More generally, my right hon. Friend decided that from December 2008, in respect of all MAPPA serious case reviews, we will share an overview report with the victim and the victim’s family.

The hon. Gentleman is wrong to suggest that victims are not at the centre of this Administration. In 2008, there were 4 million fewer victims of crime compared with 1998, and we have significantly increased investment thresholds to support victims. That speaks volumes about our commitment to victims and to putting them at the centre of the criminal justice system.