Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

This is a major issue for the people of Northern Ireland

Justice campaign hits Downing St

33,000 readers call for end to early release

33,000 readers call for end to early release

DOWNING Street was under pressure today to ensure Ulster's 50% remission policy for dangerous sex offenders is scrapped as over 30,000 Belfast Telegraph readers' signatures were taken to Downing Street.

The Government has now been urged to listen to the people after the Belfast Telegraph travelled to London to raise our Justice For Attracta campaign at the highest possible governmental level.

Coupons and petitions - signed by 33,000 readers - calling for an end to the policy which permits serious sex offenders and violent criminals to walk free from prison after half of their sentence, were personally handed over to Number 10 this week.

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said that now the concerns of so many have been brought to the heart of government, they cannot be ignored.

"This is a major issue for the people of Northern Ireland and I think it is absolutely imperative that the seriousness of the issue is highlighted at the highest possible level. With such interest and concern right across Northern Ireland about the current policy it needs to be reflected to the Prime Minister directly.

"Bringing this campaign to Downing Street means the concerns of the people of Northern Ireland are going to be planted right on the desk of the Prime Minister."

He added: "For the Belfast Telegraph to raise its campaign with Downing Street it will bring added pressure to the Northern Ireland Office to act speedily and deliver. The Government cannot ignore the concerns of the tens of thousands of people who have signed their names to the Justice For Attracta campaign."

Support from the public is continuing to pour in and we intend to persist with the campaign until Ulster's current remission policy for dangerous sex offenders is scrapped.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed a Government cutback list for Northern Ireland, which included a plan to reduce prisoner numbers. It is feared this could prevent any moves to scrap 50% remission.

The Justice For Attracta campaign was launched in April following massive public outcry when it emerged Ulster killer Trevor Hamilton murdered retired librarian Attracta Harron just months after his early release from prison where he had served half of a seven year sentence for rape.

Mrs Harron's family have publicly stated their belief that she would be alive today if Hamilton had not been released early.

Since the launch of the campaign it has been brought to the attention of Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson, Solicitor General Brian Kerr and has been backed by the majority of Northern Ireland's 26 councils.

In June automatic release of prisoners was scrapped in Scotland and in July the Home Secretary John Reid said he was scrapping early release schemes in England and Wales for dangerous prisoners.

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