Monday, 18 May 2009

Probation Service 'can't cope' with dangerous offenders

Datganiad i'r Wasg/Press Release.

Probation Service 'can't cope' with dangerous offenders
Concerns about the ability of the Probation Service to supervise dangerous offenders have been raised by Plaid Cymru's Parliamentary candidate for Wrecsam Arfon Jones, who reveals a 70% increase in workloads over the past seven years.

Cllr Jones raised concerns over the robustness and the capacity of the North Wales Probation Service after the disturbing case of sex offender Patrick Brendan Smith, who recently pleaded guilty to grooming two 12-year-old girls whilst he was living at Plas y Wern bail hostel near Ruabon, Wrexham.

In the wake of this case, Plaid Cymru obtained information from North Wales Probation showing that average caseloads for probation officers in the area have increased by 70% over the last seven years and this despite a substantial increase in the budget and the number of Probation Officers employed. Probation officers' union NAPO and the Chief Inspector of the Service Andrew Bridges have expressed concerns about future budget cuts for the Probation Service and whether probation officers will have sufficient capacity to properly supervise dangerous and sex offenders in the community once they are released from prison.

Cllr Arfon Jones said:
The Probation Service state that their actions in the case of Patrick Brendan Smith has been reviewed by a senior probation officer from another area who has identified a number of issues including gaps on Smith’s previous offending.

"Plaid Cymru would call on the North Wales Probation Service to publish an executive summary of that report together with any lessons that have been learnt as this is absolutely necessary to reassure the public in North Wales and, in particular, the parents of children living close to Plas y Wern that they are up to their responsibilities of managing sexual and dangerous offenders.

"I shall also be writing to David Hanson MP, the relevant Home Office minister, to seek reassurances that North Wales Probation Service’s budget will not be cut."

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