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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 15:50 GMT 16:50 UK
Review after paedophiles abscond
Martin Aspinall (left) and John Elms
Aspinall (left) and Elms were captured two days later on Sunday
The Prison Service in Wales has said there is likely to be a policy review after two child rapists absconded from an open prison in Monmouthshire.

John Elms, 34, and Martin Aspinall, 46, absconded from HMP Prescoed on Friday.

The were found on Sunday after being spotted by a member of the public walking alongside a road.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Usk has said the town council want an end to sex offenders being housed at Prescoed.

Kay Peacock said she is writing to the Home Office to demand a meeting with prisons minister Gerry Sutcliffe.

It's much safer for the community if these people have been tested and prepared for that release
John May
Prison Service

Sex offenders are moved to Prescoed before the end of their term but police said the prison service told them the two had not been given a release date.

Local people and politicians are bitterly opposed to the programme, but the Home Office said those taking part would be deemed to be an acceptable low risk.

Aspinall and Elms had been moved to Prescoed in Usk, as part of a rehabilitation scheme for sex offenders.

Elms was jailed in 1996 for raping a teenage girl and Aspinall was jailed in 1992 for raping a minor and kidnap.

Elms was jailed for life at the Old Bailey in March 1996 for raping a teenager at knifepoint. He previously served a four-year sentence for indecently assaulting a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

I fully understand the need for a halfway house with several kinds of offender but I doubt whether it's appropriate in this particular place
Elfyn Llwyd MP

Aspinall was jailed for life in December 1992 for raping a minor and kidnap.

John May, operational manager for the Prison Service in Wales, said he understood parents' fears, but stated Prescoed was "from many points of view well situated to accommodate this type of prisoner".

He told BBC Wales: "I would argue very forcefully that if we are to reduce the risk to the community at large of having sex offenders released after their time in custody, it's much safer for the community if these people have been tested and prepared for that release by, among other things, having the opportunity to go out to work."

He admitted it was likely Home Secretary John Reid and Prisons Minister Gerry Rafferty would want to hold a review of the situation at Prescoed as both were new to their posts.

HM Prison Prescoed
HMP Prescoed opened in 1939 as an open Borstal

Plaid Cymru's home affairs spokesman Elfyn Llwyd MP said: "Why should we take the risk with this category of offender when the prison authorities say burglars are too risky to put in this open prison and yet paedophiles are all right?

"One of these individuals re-offended within weeks of being released for a similar offence. Something has gone wrong.

"I fully understand the need for a halfway house with several kinds of offender but I doubt whether it's appropriate in this particular place."

Alun Michael, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, and a former Home Office minister, said he did not understand how Elms in particular could be considered low risk.

He said: "I question whether it's the rules or whether someone is not applying commonsense in cases of this sort.

"If you look at the background [of Elms], there's a reference by the [trial] judge to the individual being dangerous.

"It calls the way that the policy is being applied, rather than the policy itself, into question."


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"It's well situated to accommodate this sort of prisoner"



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