The Parole Board’s decision to release serial rapist and sexual attacker John Worboys after only ten years is astonishing – and raises important questions about how women (and especially Worboys’ victims) are protected by the criminal justice system.
In response to the understandable outcry at the Parole Board’s decision to release Worboys, the new Secretary of State for Justice announced on Tuesday 9 January that he would be conducting a review into the board’s guidelines and procedures and their communication with victims. In response to his statement, I urged the government to make sure the review covers the use of evidence-based risk assessments for men like Worboys, which should include evaluation of past behaviour and victim impact statements.
Past behaviour is one of the best predictors for future behaviour in cases like this. So it is vital that when men who have repeatedly committed sexual assault against women become eligible for parole, victims and the public have confidence in the Parole Board’s decision-making. These procedures should be evidence-based and provide a meaningful voice for victims.
Mr Speaker, the best predictors of future offending behaviour are – unfortunately – past offending behaviour, and victim impact statements also contain information that is important for a thorough and evidence-based risk assessment. So can I ask the Secretary of State to consider, in his review, assessing whether or not the risk assessment tools that the Parole Board are using are adequate, and whether or not the intervention programmes are evidence-based and properly evaluated?
David Gauke (Secretary of State for Justice)
Well, whether as part of the review or whether more generally, the honourable member raises important points to ensure that we have a system that is working.
You can watch the exchange here: