Anger over lower security prison for Hindley

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Myra Hindley, the Moors murderer, is being transferred from a high to a medium-security jail, it was announced yesterday. Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent, looks at the reactions.

The decision to move Hindley to a less secure regime was yesterday described as "disgusting" by the mother of one of her young victims, while a supporter called for her to be transferred to an open jail.

The convicted child killer will be moved in the next few weeks from Durham prison to Highpoint in Suffolk, where she will be closer to her female lover. She may be given special protection if the Prison Service believes she is at risk from the other 200 women held in the jail.

The move will bring Hindley closer to her partner, Nina Wilde, who lives in the area. The pair met after Wilde, 37, began working as a volunteer at Cookham Wood prison, in Chatham, Kent, five years ago.

When Hindley collapsed in her cell and was taken to hospital in December, Wilde was allowed to sit at her bedside.

Hindley was temporarily detained at Highpoint last year and has also been housed at Cookham Wood jail in Kent which has the same security rating.

Winnie Johnson, 64, mother of victim Keith Bennett, 12, yesterday reacted furiously to the news. She said: "I just think it is disgusting that they should allow her in to another prison. She has taken five children's lives and she should suffer for it. She is getting everything she wants. She snaps her fingers and they jump. They should be jumping for the families of those kids."

Lord Longford, who has spent many years campaigning for Hindley's release, welcomed the announcement but called for her to be sent to an open prison. "It is some time since the Parole Board recommended that Myra should go to an open prison. She should be moved to an open prison in preparation for release immediately," he said.

Tory MP Ann Widdecombe, former prisons minister, said: "Myra Hindley does not pose an escape threat. What the prison authorities have to be certain of is her own safety within the prison. This move was probably inevitable as she got older and it is nothing anybody needs to worry about."

The move to Highpoint comes just weeks after Hindley's failed High Court appeal against the Home Secretary's ruling that in her case, life should mean life. Lord Bingham, the Lord Chief Justice, ruled she could, and should, be lawfully kept behind bars until she dies. He said legal technicalities meant she had to have a remote chance of eventual release but it would only come "in exceptional circumstances".

Hindley was convicted in 1966, along with Ian Brady, of murdering Lesley Ann Downey, 10, and Edward Evans, 17. In 1987 she admitted involvement in the murders of John Kilbride, 12, Keith Bennett, 12, and Pauline Reade, 16. At Highpoint many of the women prisoners are in for relatively minor crimes. Last March, when 133 women were held there, only one was serving a sentence for murder and just six were serving more than six years.