Correct procedures were followed in victim contact during Worboys release
Parole staff followed correct procedures when informing victims of serial rapist John Worboys that he is to be released, the new Justice Secretary has claimed.
Parole staff followed correct procedures when informing victims of serial rapist John Worboys that he is to be released, the new Justice Secretary has claimed. The Parole Board announced earlier this month that black cab rapist Worboys will be freed less than nine years into an indefinite sentence. The decision sparked outrage after spokespeople for a number of Worboys victims suspected to be more than 100 in total said they were not informed of his imminent release. Justice Secretary David Gauke has now revealed that almost all victims who chose to remain updated on Worboys status had been notified. However, he added that the fact some victims learned of the parole decision through media reports suggests that there is a need to review these procedures. Mr Gauke said: I agree with my predecessors assessment that there is a strong case to review the case for transparency in the process for parole decisions and how victims are appropriately engaged in that process, and consider the case for changes in policy, practice or the Parole Board rules, or other guidance or procedures including the Victims Code. With that in mind, I can confirm that I have instructed my officials to establish a review to examine these questions and I will share more information on this shortly. Worboys was convicted of 19 offences relating to drugging and sexually assaulting 12 women during his time as a taxi driver in 2009 and was handed an indeterminate prison sentence. The Metropolitan Police Service later revealed that dozens more women had come forward claiming to have been attacked by the 60-year-old, and said it suspected that the total number of victims stood at over 100. No prosecutions were ever brought for the other allegations, as the Crown Prosecution Service claimed many of the complaints did not pass the evidential test. Worboys release, announced on January 3, will be accompanied by strict licence conditions. The Victims Code obliges the Parole Board to inform victims when serious sexual offenders are due to be released. London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the failure to notify victims as inconsiderate, unsympathetic and inhumane and demanded the Parole Board reconsider its decision. However, addressing Parliament on Tuesday (November 9), Mr Gauke said those who opted to remain in the Victim Contact Scheme were informed of the parole hearing. Victims who chose to be updated by phone or email were contacted on January 3, and letters were sent to the remaining women but these took longer to arrive. Victims whose crimes were not prosecuted do not fall under the statutory remit of the Victim Contact Scheme so can only access information through discretionary contact. The National Probation Service said it has no record of requests for contact through this method. However, at least one woman who should have been sent an email regarding Worboys release was not updated. Speaking on Sunday (January 7), then Justice Secretary David Lidington said there is a strong case to review how greater transparency could be introduced into the parole decision-making process. Professor Nick Hardwick, chair of the Parole Board, said: I welcome the support from the Lord Chancellor for my call for greater transparency of the parole system. It is sad that it has taken the Worboys case to get us to this point. I hope it will mean that in the future we will be able to be more open with victims and the public about our decision making and that provides reassurance that the safety of the public is always uppermost in our minds.