Attacks prompt witness protection rethink
Friday 28 December 2012
Supergrasses are to protected by a national body by the first time after ministers conceded that the present system had failed to prevent the intimidation and even murder of key witnesses.
The UK Protected Person's Service, announced today, is designed to plug gaps in a witness protection system that the Ministry of Justice admits is currently "inconsistent, variable and lacking uniform standards of delivery".
The new service will aim to ensure that witnesses are less isolated, as well as improving communication between services in different parts of the country
One supergrass, responsible for jailing an international gang of drug dealers and robbers, told The Independent that two attempts on his life were made in prison after his photograph was released following his trial.
"I was sent to prison under my own name," he said. "My witness protection team have been fantastic. It wasn't their fault. But they are based hundreds of miles from where I live."
Earlier this year a 16-year-old boy was paid £600,000 compensation after his details were passed to a violent gang he was giving evidence against.
In 2004, the Lincolnshire couple Joan and John Stirland were shot dead in retaliation after Ms Stirland's son Michael O'Brien shot the nephew of a gangster. It is thought a telephone worker gave away their address.
And in February, the Leveson Inquiry was told that the News of the World had details of people on the current witness protection scheme.
Police and the Ministry of Justice say witness protection is essential for convicting the most violent criminals. The killer of school boy Rhys Jones, 11, shot in Liverpool in 2007, and the gangmaster responsible for the Morecambe Bay disaster in 2004 were convicted because witnesses were protected. There are currently between 2,000 and 3,000 witnesses in protection at a cost of £19m, the MoJ says.
But last year more than a quarter – 27 per cent – of collapsed prosecutions were due to the failure of witnesses or victims to give evidence.
The new body will come into force next December, under the auspices of the new National Crime Agency, and follows a review of witness protection service by senior police officers.
Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who led the review, said the new body would "strengthen the fight against organised crime".
He said after the review last year: "We had a patchwork response across the country where levels of protection differed. Witness protection is underused and if there was a national service people would be encouraged to use it."
Victims minister Helen Grant said: "The UK Protected Persons Service will ensure those in need receive the expert protection and support no matter wherever they are in the UK."
Life as a supergrass: 'I can sleep at night'
Paul said he turned supergrass after being consumed by guilt for his role as the inside man in a multimillion-pound robbery. "I realised that I'd helped this gang go on to bigger things and they became international," he said. "When you're dealing drugs at that level people get hurt.
"I was paranoid, I'd had two heart attacks through drug use and when I cleaned myself up I couldn't live with myself. So I went to the police."
Two attempts were made on his life while he was in prison because his identity was leaked. "For a while the witness protection team are your only friends," he said. "It's a military operation to see your family. But I can sleep at night."
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
Antonio Martin shooting: Black teenager may have tried to ambush patrolman, says police officer's lawyer
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
Boxing Day snowfall set to push even more bargain-hunters online for sales
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...
£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...