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UK's Clarke toughens probation supervision

By Staff
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LONDON, Apr 20 (Reuters) Home Secretary Charles Clarke today announced plans to toughen the supervision of dangerous offenders freed on probation, following a spate of high-profile murders by people released early from prison.

He told parliament he wanted to allow high-risk cases to be controlled by ''violent offender orders'', which would operate in a similar way to existing restrictions on sex offenders.

He said he would publish detailed proposals on the new orders before the summer.

Home Office officials said the orders would ban dangerous offenders from entering certain areas or going near certain individuals.

Police would apply to a judge for an order to be imposed on high risk offenders when they were released from prison.

Clarke also announced that all offenders sentenced before new criminal legislation came into force last April would remain under supervision while on parole for the full length of their sentence.

This brings their supervision in line with offenders sentenced since April.

Currently such offenders are released from parole supervision three-quarters of the way through their sentence.

Harry Fletcher, Assistant General Secretary of the probation services union NAPO, told BBC Radio the measures alone would not be able to eliminate the risk of reoffending.

''It just can't be done, because we are dealing with a class of criminals some of whom are dangerous and some of whom are extremely devious and human error does creep into the system.'' The probation system has come under close scrutiny in recent months after a spate of high profile murders including the killings of teenager Mary-Ann Leneghan and banker John Monckton by people under probation supervision.

Leneghan was abducted in May last year and subjected to hours of sexual assault and torture by six men including four who were under probation at the time.

London financier Monckton was stabbed to death at his Chelsea home in November 2004 by a man who had been released early from prison.

REUTERS SHB KP1829

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