Paedophile Hostel Ban Criticised

A ban on paedophiles being housed in bail hostels near schools undermined public protection, a report has said.

In 2006, the then Home Secretary John Reid introduced the ban – affecting 14 of the 100 hostels in England and Wales – after a News of the World campaign.

But the inspectorates of constabulary, probation and prisons say it led to a shortage of places for sex offenders.

This resulted in some dangerous offenders being inadequately monitored in the community, their report adds.

The inspectors said that plans to create new hostels, to meet the need of the criminal justice system, had already proved impossible because of local opposition.

But they said the Home Office ban had “exacerbated” a shortfall in hostel places for sex offenders and “reduced the capacity” of the probation service to contribute to public protection.

Inspectors said that in some cases potentially dangerous offenders had been released from prison without proper supervision.

“The decision to admit someone to a hostel has always been based on an assessment of risk of harm that included the location of the hostel,” said the report.

“However, it is the individual who is risk assessed and not the premises.

“Given that most hostels have been private homes, it is inevitable that many are located in residential areas and that some are close to schools or nurseries.”

The report said at least one hostel had never housed a sex offender because it was “literally next door” to a nursery. Other hostel teams had worked closely with local schools who had disapproved of the ban.

“Prohibiting 14 of the 100 available hostels from accommodating those convicted of sexual offences against children under the age of 16 had had a profound effect on the ability of offender managers in some areas to find appropriate hostel accommodation for these offenders,” said the report.

“Assessment of the ability of a hostel to contain and manage risk of harm should always be paramount and we saw nothing in this inspection to suggest that this was not the case.

“Offender managers¿ continued to be distracted by this issue,” it continued. “[Public protection teams] were often unwilling to accept referrals of potentially dangerous offenders from out of the area.

“We were told about specific cases where potentially dangerous offender had been released to live with inadequate supervision, due to restrictions on admissions in a local hostel and refusal of other area’s [teams] or hostels to accept them.”