Pa­role board chief’s pledge to vic­tims af­ter Wor­boys case

The Sunday Telegraph - - Crime - By Vic­to­ria Ward

VIC­TIMS of crime will be treated with more “hu­man­ity” in the wake of the John Wor­boys case, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the pa­role board has pledged.

Martin Jones ac­knowl­edged that a change was needed in the way in which its mem­bers ap­proached the sub­ject of restora­tive jus­tice.

It fol­lows the direct in­ter­ven­tion of a woman who was re­peat­edly raped and tor­tured at knife­point in her home.

Ros­alyn Boyce, 51, who has met her at­tacker and has pro­vided state­ments for his pa­role hear­ings for sev­eral years, said she had been treated like a “piece of pa­per” by the pa­role board and the pro­ba­tion ser­vice. She de­manded that vic­tims were bet­ter treated and un­der­stood.

As a re­sult of her cam­paign­ing, and with the sup­port of Baroness Newlove, the Vic­tims’ Com­mis­sioner, the board will next week pub­lish a raft of in­for­ma­tion in con­junc­tion with the Why Me? char­ity in an at­tempt to bet­ter in­form its mem­bers about how restora­tive jus­tice works. It is hoped that a na­tion­wide in­for­ma­tion cam­paign will also lead to a more con­sis­tent ap­proach to the sub­ject when con­sid­er­ing of­fend­ers’ pa­role.

There was wide­spread crit­i­cism ear­lier this year when it emerged that a three-per­son pa­role board panel had de­cided that Wor­boys, the 60-year-old se­rial sex at­tacker, was safe to be freed af­ter around a decade be­hind bars.

The de­ci­sion was made with­out all of his vic­tims be­ing in­formed, lead­ing to claims that their needs were not con­sid­ered and that the board was not fit for pur­pose.

Two of his vic­tims won a High Court case to block his re­lease af­ter the judges said both the pa­role board and the Min­istry of Jus­tice had made er­rors dur­ing the pa­role hear­ing last year. Five more women have since come for­ward to make fur­ther al­le­ga­tions against the se­rial sex at­tacker.

Mr Jones told The Daily Tele­graph that a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the sys­tem from vic­tims’ points of view was re­quired and that the way in which the pa­role board took restora­tive jus­tice into ac­count needed to be over­hauled.

“It is about di­a­logue,” he said. “We should al­ways be lis­ten­ing to the voices of vic­tims and treat them with hu­man­ity.” Mr Jones said im­prove­ments were needed to keep track of vic­tims by mod­ernising the sys­tem and com­mu­ni­cat­ing via email rather than by post. He also said more could be done to give Ros­alyn Boyce was re­peat­edly raped and tor­tured at knife­point while her two-year-old daugh­ter slept in the room next door.

She said the only rea­son she wasn’t killed was be­cause the knife fell apart.

The rapist, Lee Hill, re­ceived three life sen­tences. But as the at­tack was in 1999 he be­came el­i­gi­ble for re­lease in 2012, and since then Ms Boyce has had to en­dure the pa­role process along­side the offender, pro­vid­ing vic­tim im­pact state­ments each year when the panel con­sid­ers his case.

“You are get­ting re­trau­ma­tised each time,” she said. “You are com­pletely out of con­trol and while the per­pe­tra­tor has a whole le­gal team and sup­port sys­tem, you are left to fend for your­self.

“Last time, the process lasted 18 months. By the end of it I had re­cur­ring PTSD.

“I was in a bad way. I didn’t know what the out­come would be and one mem­ber of the pro­ba­tion ser­vice told me: ‘This is not your day, it’s the offender’s day.’”

Dur­ing the at­tack Hill had threat­ened to kill her if she went to the po­lice and Ms Boyce did not be­lieve that she was safe.

“Peo­ple think restora­tive jus­tice is all roses and ev­ery­thing’s all right now,” she said. “But it’s a huge grey area and raises many is­sues. Af­ter giv­ing ev­i­dence, I felt like I was back in the room. It was very stress­ful, it brought me to my knees.” Vic­to­ria Ward

vic­tims the chance to pro­vide im­pact state­ments and sup­port them when they do so.

There were around 8,000 pa­role hear­ings last year, but only 200 vic­tims gave im­pact state­ments at pris­ons in per­son and around 1,000 in writ­ing.

The board is con­sid­er­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of pre-recorded state­ments and had be­gun re­im­burs­ing travel costs for those who do at­tend a hear­ing.

Last week, Caroline Corby, the new chair­man of the Pa­role Board, ad­mit­ted that the body had suf­fered a “loss of con­fi­dence” in the wake of the Wor­boys case and said the board now asked for more in­for­ma­tion on cases be­fore mak­ing de­ci­sions.

Mr Jones added: “One of the things that came out of the Wor­boys case was an in­crease in aware­ness of vic­tims’ rights. We have been work­ing with Why Me? to try to en­sure that we have very clear in­for­ma­tion for vic­tims to ex­plain how the process works.

“If a pris­oner prop­erly en­gages in restora­tive jus­tice it can re­duce the chances of long-term re­of­fend­ing.”

Lucy Jaffe, di­rec­tor of Why Me?, said its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the board had got off to an “ex­cel­lent start”.

‘We should al­ways be lis­ten­ing to the voices of vic­tims and treat them with hu­man­ity’

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