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Release of Violent Offenders: Victim Safety

Volume 743: debated on Tuesday 9 January 2024

14. What steps his Department is taking to help ensure the safety of victims after violent offenders are released. (900808)

Protecting the public is our top priority. Offenders are subject to strict licence conditions on release, which can include tagging and exclusion zones, and they can of course be returned to prison if they breach those conditions. Victims of violent and sexual offenders serving prison sentences of 12 months or more are legally entitled to request protected licence conditions on release, including exclusion zones. The probation service works with partners including the police under the multi-agency public protection arrangements, to closely manage the risk presented by the most serious offenders.

Rhianon Bragg’s attacker was convicted of stalking, possessing a firearm and making threats to kill. Only two months ago, the Parole Board decided that his probation release plan could not ensure public protection, yet he will be automatically released next month. I have sent numerous letters to Ministers on this matter but have received not a single reply. Given that the victim lives in a remote area, which makes conventional surveillance methods virtually impossible, will the Secretary of State finally provide a credible response to the urgent safety risks faced by victims such as Rhianon?

First, I thank the right hon. Lady for raising this case. I do know about the case of Rhianon Bragg—in the interests of complete transparency, I should say that I was at school with her. The Government introduced extended determinate sentences in order to better protect the public from dangerous offenders by making their early release dependent on the Parole Board. Offenders on extended determinate sentences must be released. As the right hon. Lady knows, there are no legal powers to hold them for longer at the end of that custodial term. However, they face years of strict supervision by the probation service with strict licence conditions, such as exclusion zones and curfews, and they will be returned to prison if they breach them. I am aware of the letter that was sent on the 14th to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State. He will of course be happy to meet the right hon. Lady to discuss those points.