11:17, March 05 245 0 theguardian.com

2020-03-05 11:17:04
Joseph McCann: review finds 'repeated failure' to recall offender to jail

Probation staff repeatedly failed to recall Joseph McCann to prison despite concerns being raised by other professionals before he carried out a series of sexual assaults, an official review has found.

McCann, 34, was given 33 life sentences and jailed for a minimum term of 30 years in December for the attacks on 11 women and children.

Described by his sentencing judge as a “classic psychopath”, McCann had been freed from prison after a probation service error two months before he began the string of attacks.

After a burglary armed with a knife in 2008, McCann had been given an imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence, which requires the Parole Board to approve a prisoner’s release. Having been released but then convicted again for burglary and theft in 2017, McCann should have been recalled to prison under the IPP. Instead, he was mistakenly given a fresh, determinate sentence and released on licence at the midway point.

A review carried out by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and published on Thursday said: “The most significant practice failing was the repeated failure to recall Joseph McCann or to reflect critically on earlier decisions not to recall him, in the face of both court and prison staff communicating their concerns.

“From the point where McCann was arrested for burglary in 2017 to the point of his release, there were eight occasions where recall was considered or the recall decision was questioned. These all represented opportunities to recall.

“If the probation service had recalled McCann he would not have been released until the Parole Board was satisfied his release could be managed in the community.”

The findings have prompted the department to ask chief inspector of probation, Justin Russell, to carry out an independent review of the National Probation Service’s management of McCann and how the process of recalling offenders to prison is working.