Just to note that ‘imprisonment for public interest’ was abolished in December 2012 but it wasn’t retrospective which is why this offender won’t be walking the streets any time soon. Information about that below the news story.
A dangerous former Scout leader who fled to New York to escape justice for sexually abusing young boys has been told by top judges he deserves to be locked up indefinitely.
Paedophile, Stuart Darren Harris, went on the run after being arrested following allegations of abuse and used a fake identity to get a job as a nanny for a family with young children.
The 34-year-old was brought back to the UK after British police and the FBI managed to track him down.
Harris, of Clos Pen Y Banc, Clase, Swansea, admitted a string of sickening crimes, including sexual assaults against children under 13 and making indecent images of children.
He was handed imprisonment for public protection – which is almost identical to a life sentence – at Swansea Crown Court in November 2008.
The Government has abolished sentences of imprisonment for public protection (IPPs) for offenders convicted on or after 3 December 2012, and replaced them with different sentences for dangerous offenders. However the change was not made retrospective. The sentence still exists for those who were convicted before that date and who have not been sentenced yet. Also the change in the law will not apply to people currently serving these sentences. Prisoners in this position who wished to challenge their continued detention would need to seek legal advice in the light of their full circumstances.
IPPs were introduced by the last Labour Government from 2005. They were designed to ensure that dangerous violent and sexual offenders stayed in custody for as long as they presented a risk to society. Under the system, a person who had committed a specified violent or sexual offence would be given an IPP if the offence was not so serious as to merit a life sentence. Once they had served their “tariff” they would have to satisfy the Parole Board that they no longer pose a risk before they could be released. As of 31 March 2013 there were around 5,800 prisoners serving IPPS.
A number of commentators have expressed serious concerns about IPPs, including Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, the House of Commons Justice Committee and the Prison Reform Trust. The main concerns have been that:
• Less serious offenders have been given very short tariffs but then have been kept in prison for a long time after these have expired
• The prison and parole systems could not cope with the need to give all these short tariff prisoners appropriate access to rehabilitative and resettlement programmes so that they could demonstrate they were no longer a risk to society
• The administrative delays resulted in uncertainty and perceived injustice for prisoners and litigation
• The rapid increase in the numbers of those on IPPs contributed to prison overcrowding, which in turn exacerbated the problems with providing rehabilitation
The Labour government set up reviews of the scheme which resulted in administrative improvements and a new “seriousness” threshold. Following its own review of IPPs, the present Government introduced amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill to abolish IPPs and extend sentence provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Under the new provisions, life sentences would be imposed on conviction for a second serious offence and there are new provisions for extended sentences. The Act received Royal Assent on 1 May 2012, and the relevant provisions came into force on 3 December 2012.