Luke’s campaign to change the law to stop early release of prisoners like Vanessa George passes Parliament.
The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information) Bill has, today, just passed its final Parliamentary stage. This is the bill that implements Luke’s campaign to change the law to stop prisoners like Vanessa George being released early who refuse to name the children they abused. It is a big day for the families of Vanessa George’s victims as it changes the law to stop other families going through the same experience they had to.
This Bill changes the law to take the non-disclosure of information into account when considering release of a prisoner prompted by the shameful refusal of Vanessa George to name the babies and toddlers she abused in Little Teds nursery in Laira. That nursery is now closed by the children and their families will have to live with the emotional scars of that abuse for the rest of their lives
Luke Pollard had this to say:
“I still believe that Vanessa George should not have been released from prison without naming the babies and toddlers she abused. This new law can’t put her back behind bars but it will stop other families enduring what Vanessa George’s victims and their families in Plymouth had to.
It was a kick in the teeth to all of her victims that she was released without even revealing the names of all of the children she abused. I promised the victims of Vanessa George that I would change the law to prevent other families going through what they experienced.
The courage and dignity of these Plymouth families has been incredible. I want to thank them for not giving up that this day would come. The bill is now on its way to Buckingham Palace for the Queen to sign it into law.
This Bill showed Parliament at its best, with cross-party working, a Conservative Government backing Labour MPs in their campaigns with no party politics involved, collaboration between the House of Commons and the House of Lords and a firm focus on what is best for the victims. I want to thank everyone involved.”
There were two parts to Luke’s campaign. The first was to change the law to allow the Parole Board to take into account non-disclosure of information about the children abused in images. That required a change in the law and that is what this Bill achieves. The second part was to change the way victims of serious crimes are informed about what is happening to the offender. This is important because many victims of Vanessa George found out about her release from the Herald and Facebook. Luke argued that they should have been told first.
Working with Baroness Kennedy, a Labour peer in the House of Lords, Luke managed to persuade the Government to implement a new nationwide victims system on an opt-out basis. The opt-out is important as it means victims will be told about what is happening to the offender unless they ask not to – this would mean no more finding out about early releases on Facebook or the local press. This new national scheme will be rolled out from 2021.
The Bill also implements Helen’s Law that my Labour colleague, Conor McGinn MP has been a tireless champion of. This is when a murderer refuses to name the location of a body after they have been convicted of murder. Helen McCourt’s mother, Marie McCourt has my huge respect for the dignity she has shown in campaigning for this change in the law.
This Bill showed Parliament at its best, with cross-party working, Government backing Labour MPs in their campaigns with party politics, collaboration between the Commons and Lords and a firm focus on the victims.