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Campaigners seek MP's help fighting 'dangerous' plans for sex offenders in open prison

PUBLISHED: 11:52 02 October 2018 | UPDATED: 13:38 02 October 2018

Suffolk Coastal MP These Coffey Picture: CHRIS McANDREW/UK PARLIAMENT

Suffolk Coastal MP These Coffey Picture: CHRIS McANDREW/UK PARLIAMENT

Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

Politicians are being urged to reject controversial proposals for sex offenders to be housed in a Suffolk open prison.

Campaigners fighting Prison Service plans to allow risk assessed offenders into Hollesley Bay have asked Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey to help.

In an open letter, Hollesley’s Patrick Jacob warns Dr Coffey her constituents are “gravely concerned” by the proposals.

Mr Jacob said it was “unfortunate” neither Dr Coffey, nor Government representatives attended last month’s public meeting where outgoing governor Declan Moore attempted to allay villagers’ fears. Mr Jacob claimed it was “shocking” such little regard had been shown and made calls for the evidence behind the proposals to be “scrutinised and reviewed with urgency”.

Further concerns have been raised about the lack of consultation with key figures, including Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore.

Mr Jacob also said Hollesley’s prison was more closely integrated with the community, including a nearby primary school, than others in the country, which was why people believe the proposals “dangerous, wrong and unnecessary”.

He claimed the decision was made on false information and the Prisons Minister “must accordingly reconsider”.

Jenny Hinton, UKIP’s East Suffolk branch secretary, raising concerns in a letter to this newspaper, said the “one beacon of light” was Thorn Cross open prison – where the proposals to accept sex offenders were rescinded following a petition and MP’s support.

She said a similar outcome could be achieved in Hollesley with “effort and energy” from the MP and PCC.

Dr Coffey said while she recognised the important role of open prisons, “I remain concerned about the proposal to house potentially dangerous sexual offenders close to Hollesley Primary School”.

“The letter I received as a result of the public meeting raises some legitimate concerns which I have asked the Prison’s Minister, Rory Stewart to respond to,” she said.

The Prison Service said the changes were necessary as more sex offenders were going to jail.

“A wider range of rehabilitation options for these men as they prepare to re-enter society is the best way of minimising the risk to the public,” a spokesman added.

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