I issued the following press release on 22.06.2006
POLICY ON PAEDOPHILES IS BEING MADE ON THE HOOF SAYS BIRMINGHAM MP, LYNNE JONES
My colleague Andrew Miller asks (see item from Commons news service 'Gallery News' below) whether any critic of the decision to withdraw services supervising sex offenders near schools, to manage sex offenders, would want their children to attend a centre, or school, next door. But the question that needs to be posed is in what way will the measures proposed by the Home Secretary actually make children safer? I support the comments made by the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Terry Grange. You have to be brave to speak out on these issues and not afraid to counter bad publicity in the tabloid press. The bail hostel in my constituency, Elliot House, has been doing excellent work with offenders, some of whom have been sex offenders, for many years. In the 14 years that I have been the MP for the area, I have had no complaints about the Hostel and the Head of the day nursery next door has stated on local TV that she would rather know that offenders are and that they are being supervised. She told me that she cannot fault the management of the hostel. Whilst no one would positively welcome the idea of a paedophile living in their locality, in any densely populated area this is likely to be the case.
On Tuesday I tabled the following parliamentary question:
Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak):To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, since what date sex offenders have been housed in Elliot House in Birmingham; what causes for concern have been drawn to his Department's attention since that time; what his rationale is for deciding that such offenders should no longer be housed in this hostel; and what steps are being taken to ensure that the risk of their re-offending is minimised. (80055)
There is no residential area in the country without children. The fact is, wherever these hostels are, there will be children living nearby. Withdrawing much-needed services provided by a hostel just because it is near a school gives a false sense of security - such measures will make it more, not less difficult to monitor and supervise sex offenders when they have finished their sentences. There are already calls for the closure of other local hostels not included in John Reid's list but having schools nearby (it's impossible not to in an urban area). This policy is whipping up anxiety which could well lead to a decline in effective supervision work and more released offenders disappearing into the community. What is important is not the location but whether there are effective controls and supervision in place.
In my view any dangerous paedophile who has not accepted his offending behaviour and who is therefore likely to reoffend should not be released from custody at all and I support such people being given indeterminate sentences, a measure introduced by the Government. Where a child sex offender is assessed as being of low risk if supervised, they have to live somewhere and I would therefore prefer them to be under close supervision at experienced centres that have the necessary expertise to make provision for their continued rehabilitation.
From: Gallery News
Sent: 21 June 2006 12:18
Subject: PAEDOPHILES: MP condemns police chief
PAEDOPHILES: MP condemns police chief
Ellesmere Port and Neston Labour MP Andrew Miller has written to Home Office minister Gerry Sutcliffe complaining about 'misleading and inaccurate' reporting of the sex offender issues.
He says he resents being accused by the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, Terry Grange, who said the Home Office had 'surrendered' power over policy to the News of the World, who have been campaigning for a Megan's Law to publish the whereabouts of paedophiles.
Mr Miller writes, " I am writing to you to express my concern about the misleading and inaccurate media reports relating to your announcement on sex offenders and bail hostels. I resent the accusation from a Chief Constable that I am being driven by the News of the World or indeed any other newspaper.
" Your records will show that I had a meeting with Paul Goggins in September 2004 after the Probation Service first tried to extend the existing agreement about Bunbury House in Ellesmere Port.
" Furthermore I spoke to Paul's successor and then you without any reference to the media even at a local level. The initial meeting took place at my request as I was concerned that the proposal from the Probation Service had not been thought through in a holistic manner, especially as the hostel is in a very disadvantaged area and next door to the first children's centre in Cheshire.
" My views were backed by Margaret Hodge as the then children's minister.
" I am therefore delighted that HMG has now not only blocked this proposed change but made it clear that no child sex offenders will be placed at Bunbury House.
" I would ask that as a matter of urgency the public record is corrected as I think it would be inappropriate for the Chief Constable's view to be regarded as fact when manifestly that is not true."
Mr Miller told Gallery News, " I find it astonishing that the Chief Constable, or anybody else, could criticise the Government's decision. Would any such critic want their children to attend a centre, or school, next door to an institution housing paedophiles?
" The Government's action is not pandering to the News of the World, it has responded to the commonsense argument I have been presenting for a number of years, which I know will be fully supported within my constituency."
GALLERY NEWS, HOUSE OF COMMONS