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Parole hearings will be heard in public for first time from next month

Parole hearings will be heard in public for the first time from next month following outcry over the proposed release of black cab rapist John Worboys

  • The plans will grant Justice Secretary Dominic Raab the final say on the releases
  • Victims will get rights to attend Parole Board hearings in full and ask questions
  • Dozens of killers, rapists and paedophiles released from prison have gone on to get second life sentences after committing another serious crime

Parole hearings are to be opened up to the public for the first time from next month as part of reforms to the system.

The Ministry of Justice will relax the requirement to hold the hearings in private, in the biggest shake-up since parole boards were introduced more than 50 years ago. 

The plan raises the prospect of high-profile cases being heard in public.

The change follows the decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys, who was granted parole in a closed hearing in 2018. 

The ruling was quashed on appeal following uproar from victims.

The change follows the decision to release black cab rapist John Worboys, who was granted parole in a closed hearing in 2018

Jon Venables, who killed two-year-old James Bulger in Merseyside in 1993, is also reported to be pushing for parole and could have a full hearing as early as September

Jon Venables, who killed two-year-old James Bulger in Merseyside in 1993, is also reported to be pushing for parole and could have a full hearing as early as September. 

The plans will grant Justice Secretary Dominic Raab the final say on the release of about 660 offenders a year, The Sunday Times reported.

Raab can currently only push for a decision to be reconsidered if it is irrational or procedures were not followed properly.  

Victims will get rights to attend Parole Board hearings in full and ask questions. They will also be entitled to receive more detailed information from the board’s officials.

The measures will shake up the way the board operates, tipping the balance away from criminals’ rights and more in favour of victims and protecting the public.

Parole Board officials will be told their ‘only priority’ will be making sure a prisoner poses no risk to the public.

And, in a victory for openness, parole hearings will also be opened to the Press for the first time, Mr Raab pledged.

The plans will grant Justice Secretary Dominic Raab the final say on the release of about 660 offenders a year

It is the biggest change to the parole system since the boards were introduced 60 years ago, and brings the UK system closer to the more open Canadian one.

Dozens of killers, rapists and paedophiles released from prison have gone on to get second life sentences after committing another serious crime. 

Last year the board allowed the release of Colin Pitchfork, who raped and murdered two 15-year-old girls in the 1980s. 

He was recalled to jail less than three months later after displaying ‘concerning behaviour’. 

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