Sex offenders being released from prison without accessing treatment programme


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The Independent Online

Too many sex offenders are being released from prison without having access to a treatment programme at all, inspectors said today.

Some 46 inmates at the category C Whatton prison, which holds more than 840 sex offenders in Nottingham, were released last year without having completed a sex offender treatment programme (SOTP) at all, the Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said.

One in four sex offenders had waited more than a year for a programme and another one in four had a wait of more than two years, a survey by the prison showed.

It was “concerning that not all sex offenders who required it were receiving the treatment they needed” before being released, Mr Hardwick said.

“In the interests of the individuals concerned and the communities to which they were returning, this was a matter that needed to be addressed,” he added.

In their report today following an inspection in January and February, the inspectors found “too many prisoners were released without accessing a sex offender treatment programme.

“As a national resource for sex offenders, prisoners were sent to the establishment to complete courses,” the report said.

“Some prisoners were sent too late to complete courses and some were found to be unsuitable for a sex offender treatment programme, resulting in some prisoners being released without completing their recommended programme and without their offending behaviour having been addressed.”

The total number of places across all programmes had reduced by 50 over the previous two years, the inspectors found.

Due to the resources required for the programmes and the huge demand, many prisoners were waiting months or even years for a place, leaving many inmates “well beyond their sentence tariff or unable to move to lower category prisons, which meant that places were not freed up for others”, they said.

The report went on: “Most troubling of all, there were a small number of prisoners being discharged without having completed a sex offender treatment programme at all.

“A total of 46 prisoners had been released in 2011 without accessing an SOTP.

“A survey undertaken by the prison had shown that 26% of prisoners waiting for a programme had experienced delays of over a year and another 26% more than two years.”

Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (Noms), said: “I am pleased that the Deputy Chief Inspector recognises that HMP Whatton is maintaining standards in the key areas of respect, safety and activity, particularly given the need to achieve financial savings.

“The prison will seek to make further improvements within its allocated budget, especially in the area of resettlement and the provision of offending behaviour programmes.

“This helps create a safe regime in which prisoners can be supported to reduce the likelihood of re-offending and help to protect the public.”