Justice Secretary considers parole system rethink after Colin Pitchfork recall

Dominic Raab said he favoured a system where the balance falls more heavily on public protection rather than freedom.

Justice Secretary considers parole system rethink after Colin Pitchfork recall

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the parole system needs a rethink for the most serious of cases after double child killer Colin Pitchfork was released and then recalled.

The Deputy Prime Minister suggested on Wednesday he would like to see a more cautious approach, where the balance falls more heavily on public protection rather than freedom.

Mr Raab said a “root-and-branch” review of the parole system would consider the change as he insisted there would be a “very rigorous process” surrounding Pitchfork.

He was released in September but two months later he was back behind bars after probation staff raised concerns about his behaviour.

Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast: “One of the problems in cases like this is that there is a presumption that unless it can be demonstrated that the individual presents a risk then they will be released. I want to look at that again because I think actually that presumption is the wrong way.

“If you take for example climate change and environmental law, we have what’s called a precautionary principle because of the risk involved. And I think in cases like this where there is a serious question about risk to the public and public protection I think we should have a more precautionary approach.

Colin Pitchfork
Colin Pitchfork was recalled to prison (Police handout/PA)

The alarm was raised after Pitchfork, now in his 60s, approached young women on multiple occasions while on walks away from the bail hostel where he was living, it is understood.

His earlier release prompted public concern amid attempts to keep him in prison.

The Parole Board decided he was “suitable for release” following a hearing in March, despite this being denied in 2016 and 2018.

Pitchfork’s case now has to be referred to the Parole Board within 28 days.

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