Minister plays down reports that released sex offenders were housed in hotels

Prisons Minister Rory Stewart has sought to play down reports that convicted sex offenders have been housed in budget hotel chains upon their release from prison.

Mr Stewart (pictured), who was responding to a shock report by the prison and probation watchdog, told MPs that this had happened in only a “very small number of cases” and when it had police had determined the individual did not “pose a risk of a contact offence”.

The minister estimated that “something like half a dozen” ex-offenders had been placed in hotel accommodation over the last year.

Shadow justice minister Imran Hussain said the public had been “put at risk” by the Government.

He said: “We expect our criminal justice system to keep us safe, to keep our children protected and to ensure the effective management and supervision of offenders. But it is clear from this damning report into the state of management and supervision of sexual offenders that this is not the case and the joint report reads as a catalogue of failures in public protection.”

“These are severe failings by the Ministry of Justice and the public have the right to know that they have been put at risk by this Government”, he added.

Mr Stewart pledged that Government would “work very, very hard” to ensure the practice ended and said his department was now providing funding to build more than 200 additional places in “approved premises”.

He said: “My objective will be to significantly reduce, if not entirely eliminate the possibility of any in future going to that form of hotel accommodation.”

The report, published today, concluded that not enough is being done to protect the public from sex offenders, with four in 10 who had been released from jail doing no work at all to reduce the risk of re-offending.

Former education secretary Justine Greening later raised the case management of Black Cab Rapist John Worboys, who was wrongly cleared for release from prison by the Parole Board, which did not take the full extent of his offending into account.

The Conservative MP for Putney said: “Many women in my part of London were extremely concerned about that decision.

“I think the report today underlines why people were so worried at the time about the ability of the services to manage him had he been allowed out of prison.

“How will he keep the House updated on the success of those steps and whether he is satisfied of progress being made in the light of this important report?”

Mr Stewart said “an extensive review” of the Worboys case had been conducted and some “important lessons” about connections between services had been learned.

He said: “In the most extreme cases… We have very significant protections in place for the public.”

Labour MP Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) asked about rehabilitation programmes to tackle the women-hating beliefs of rapists like Worboys.

She said: “The underlying attitudes of offenders such as Worboys and other repeat sexual offenders who repeatedly rape and abuse women are frequently… misogynistic and woman-hating attitudes.

“What will the Minister be doing in his review of treatment programmes to make sure staff have the training, support and supervision they need in order to tackle these misogynistic and women-hating attitudes?”

Mr Stewart agreed misogyny must be tackled and said “we should do more on that”.

There are currently 13,580 prisoners serving jail terms for sexual offences, nearly a fifth of the total prison population. A similar proportion of the 106,819 probation cases nationally are sex offenders.

The number of prisoners serving immediate custodial sentences for sexual offences is at its highest since 2002.

Since the last inspection of this kind in 2010, the number of registered sex offenders has gone from 34,939 in March 2010 to 58,637 in March 2018.

Nationally, there is a 25% shortfall in places for all offenders in approved premises, formerly known as bail hostels.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Victoria Jones / PA Wire.