Bulletin No. 614
Tuesday 6th May 2014
PGA response to criticism over Temporary Release
The PGA are aware of recent media coverage in relation to Mr. Wheatley, 55, who received 13 life sentences at the Old Bailey in 2002, and did not return to HMP Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, on Saturday following a period of Temporary Release.
The use of temporary release continues to be an important process for the successful resettlement of offenders into the community. Release on Temporary Licence is not a right and will always be considered using thorough risk assessment to ensure that protection of the public is not compromised.
On this occasion Mr. Wheatley has not returned to custody. All such absconds are a serious matter for both the Ministry of Justice as well as the local community, and will rightly be subject to an internal investigation. Local managers will work with the investigation team throughout the enquiry.
The PGA, however, are appalled with the comments made by backbencher Phillip Davis following this recent abscond.
He has suggested that whoever allowed him (Mr. Wheatley) out of prison is a ‘berk’, and called for the person who allowed him to move to open conditions to be sacked.
The use of open conditions is an important factor for effective resettlement. Research suggests that reoffending rates among those released from open conditions are far lower compared to those released from closed prisons.The movement to the open estate for those prisoners serving life sentences usually follows a recommendation made by the Parole Board. Any such decision will be approved by the Secretary State for Justice, based on an in-depth review.
It is therefore unhelpful for Members of Parliament to make comment on areas in which they are not fully conversant.