During a debate in Parliament on Tuesday 23rd January, South Leicestershire M.P. Alberto Costa asked a Government minister for assurances that jailed double-killer Colin Pitchfork will only be released when he no longer poses a risk to the public.
Pitchfork raped and murdered schoolgirls Lynda Mann, Narborough in 1983 and Dawn Ashworth, Enderby, in 1986. Both girls were 15yrs of age.
The M.P., who was speaking in the House of Commons during a discussion of the case of John Worboys, the London cab driver who carried out a series of sexual assaults on female passengers, asked Justice Secretary David Gauke what steps he had taken to ensure the Parole Board fully takes account of public safety prior to releasing a prisoner.
The Parole Board recommended that Pitchfork, who was jailed in 1988, should move to an open prison in 2016 and cleared him for unsupervised visits in 2017.
Speaking to the Leicester Mercury 1 following the debate, Mr. Costa said his role was to ensure that decision makers are “properly scrutinised”.
Replying, the Secretary of State said the safety of the public must be the overriding objective in the mind of the Parole Board when it is considering whether to release a prisoner.
The South Leicestershire M.P., whose constituency covers Enderby and Narborough went on to tell the Mercury:
“That’s the assurance I have been given and, in the weeks and months ahead I will be pressing for as much information I can get about the reasons for his release – if he is released – and what safeguards have been put in place to prevent him ever offending again.
“We don’t know to what extent he has admitted his guilt or shown any remorse for his crimes.”
Mr Costa has previously told the Mercury that consideration should be given to overturning the existing rules which prevent the disclosure of Parole Board decisions.
Mr Costa said:
“The only way we can have that assurance is if the most important parts of the submissions to the Probation Board by or on behalf of Mr Pitchfork and which persuaded it to release him are made available.”
Safety of public is overriding concern
Secretary of State for Justice Mr David Gauke told Mr Costa:
“The safety of the public is the Parole Board’s overriding concern in considering whether a prisoner should be released.
“That will be the board’s concern when it comes to reviewing Pitchfork’s detention.
“I can confirm that the families of Pitchfork’s victims are receiving regular contacts under the probation victim contact service – specifically they have been given the opportunity to submit a victim personal statement to the Parole Board and to make representations regarding licence conditions for any upcoming parole hearing.”
Parole Board chairman Professor Nick Hardwick has indicated the body could take steps toward greater transparency and Lynda Mann’s sister, Rebecca Eastwood, who lives in Liverpool, backed Mr Costa’s call for key aspects Pitchfork’s “assessment” to be made public.
In 2015 Dawn Ashworth’s mother, Barbara, supported a petition calling for Pitchfork to not be released. Along with the Eastwood family, who raised the petition, she believed Pitchfork should remain in prison for the rest of his life.
1 The Leicester Mercury (This story)