Killer's human rights 'put above public safety'

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The Independent Online

A man who killed a mother-of-one just nine months after being freed from prison was "too dangerous to be released in the first place", an official watchdog concluded today.

The Chief Inspector of Probation Andrew Bridges said there were "substantial deficiencies" in the way Anthony Rice was supervised by probation and other officials in Hampshire before the killing of Naomi Bryant.

Both prisons and the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements or MAPPA - a panel designed to protect the public from serious offenders in the community - were side-tracked by considering Rice's human rights above their duties to the public, the report said.

A key decision was taken by the Parole Board in 2001 which allowed Rice to move to an open prison, which created a "momentum towards release".

Mr Bridges said: "Our conclusion about this case is that there were substantial deficiencies in the way Rice was supervised by probation and its partners in MAPPA, but in any case he was too dangerous to be released into the community in the first place."

The Chief Inspector said a final decision by the Parole Board to release serial sex attacker Rice "gave insufficient weight to the underlying nature of his risk of harm to others".

He disclosed that the board had received "over optimistic" reports of his progress under treatment and did not have a full picture of his previous crimes, including the fact that he had targeted children.

And their previous decision to move him to an open jail had created expectations that his release date was a matter of "when not if".

Mr Bridges also concluded that it was frequently unclear who was in charge of the case.

"On balance Anthony Rice should not have been released on licence in the first place and once he had been released he could and should have been better managed," said Mr Bridges.

"The principal finding arises from our analysis of a complex picture where a sequence of deficiencies in the form of mistakes, misjudgements and miscommunications ... had a compounding effect so that they came to amount to what we call a cumulative failure."