‘Inhumane’ treatment of victims condemned as ‘black cab rapist’ set free

The Government has been urged to review its Victims’ Code after women targeted by one of Britain`s most prolific rapists were not informed he is to be released from jail.

Jan 5, 2018

The Government has been urged to review its Victims’ Code after women targeted by one of Britain`s most prolific rapists were not informed he is to be released from jail. John Worboys, 60, will be freed later this month less than nine years after he was sentenced for a series of rapes and sexual assaults carried out on London women during his time working as a taxi driver. The Parole Board is obliged to tell victims when serious sexual offenders will be released – but a number of Worboys’ victims have come forward claiming they were never told. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has now condemned the early release and demanded an investigation into why contact processes failed. “Not only is this inconsiderate, unsympathetic and inhumane it constitutes a clear breach of the Victims’ Code,” he said. “Too often victims are at best treated as an afterthought, or ignored altogether and this seems to have happened again in this case. “This must stop and the Government needs to urgently investigate why the Victims’ Code processes failed.” He added: “The Parole Board must reconsider their decision to release this man.” On Thursday (January 4), the Parole Board announced that he will be released under strict licence conditions including weekly meetings with probation staff and a ban on contacting his victims. Between 2002 and 2008, Worboys repeatedly gave female passengers in his cab drug-laced champagne before sexually assaulting them. He was initially found guilty of 19 offences against 12 women and was ordered to spend at least eight years in jail in 2009. The Metropolitan Police Service now believes Worboys may have assaulted more than 100 women. However, no additional charges were brought on the advice of the Crown Prosecution Service. Keir Starmer MP, director of public prosecutions in 2009, has been criticised for the decision not to pursue the allegations. In 2010, the Independent Police Complaints Commission identified serious mistakes in the investigation into Worboys’ crimes but made no disciplinary recommendations. His case was considered by the Parole Board last November and approved by a three-member panel following an oral hearing. The Victim’s Code states that victims of violent and sexual offenders are entitled to be kept informed of “key stages in the offender’s sentence… such as transfer to open conditions or release”. However, several women have publicly stated that they were not informed in advance that his parole hearing had been successful. Professor Nick Hardwick, chair of the Parole Board, recognised there has been a lack of transparency in its processes. He said: “I am very concerned some victims were not told about the decision, this must have been very distressing. “There are robust arrangements in place for victims to be informed through the Victim Contact Scheme. We were told that had been done as usual in this case and released the decision on that basis.” Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, described the decision as “shocking”. “There are many serious questions why this dangerous man has been given parole after serving such a short sentence for his attacks against women,” she said. “Given the seriousness of this case, the Parole Board should publish their reasons immediately so both the decision and the process can be scrutinised before this man is released. “We also need to know what information and support was given to all the victims before this decision was taken.” Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive officer of sexual violence charity nia, added that she is “convinced that women are less safe on the streets with this serial rapist out of jail”.

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