Sex offenders not challenged over crimes before prison release, report says

Inmates held in the largest sex offenders’ prison in Europe are released without being challenged over their crimes or the risk they pose to others, a report said.

The concerns were raised by HMP Littlehey’s Independent Monitoring Board (IMB), which said a “significant” group of inmates were missing out on a rehabilitation programme because they were classed as being at low risk of re-offending.

It called on the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to set national standards for sex offenders and older inmates to “end the postcode lottery of rehabilitation and resettlement initiatives”.

The category C prison in Perry, Cambridgeshire, is described as the largest prison in Europe for sex offenders, after it was re-categorised in 2014. It holds over 1,000 inmates and 98% were convicted of a sexual offence.

It also holds an “unusually high” number of older inmates with 48% aged 50 and over, 140 aged over 70, and 34 over the age of 80.

Celebrity publicist Max Clifford – who denied his crimes up to his death in 2017 – was serving an eight-year sentence for indecent assault at Littlehey before he collapsed.

The board said it was “frustrated to report the woefully small amount of men who are able to access an intervention programme to help them reduce their risk,” adding: “Together with the lack of resource for specific resettlement services, the board is dissatisfied with the help these men receive to become better citizens on release.”

Its report said: “Littlehey (pictured) is the largest prison for men convicted of sexual offences, in Europe, with just under 50% of its population being 50 years and over.

“Therefore, with these facts the expectation is that Littlehey would be a leader of both managing imprisonment for men convicted of sexual offences and for OAPs.

“Sadly, this is not the case.

“The majority of the population will be released without being challenged, or increasing their own understanding, about their sexual offence, the factors leading up to it or what they need to do to reduce their risk of serious harm.”

The board also reiterated calls to the Government to ensure the prison was not overcrowded, adding: “Housing two prisoners in cells designed for one person is not decent treatment and should not be accepted as standard practice.”

Ongoing maintenance problems with plumbing and unreliable laundry services were also raised in the report.

IMBs are made up of volunteers appointed by justice ministers to scrutinise prison conditions.

A Prison Service spokesman said: “Prisoners at HMP Littlehey are carefully assessed before being provided with the most suitable treatment to reduce their risk of committing further sexual offences.

“The majority of prisoners released from HMP Littlehey go into supervised accommodation and are subject to strict licence conditions.”

Last year some of the prisoners started on nationally accredited sex offender treatment programmes, according to the MoJ.

The department suggested some lower-risk offenders were more likely to commit crimes again after taking part in certain programmes.

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