Ian Huntley, who is currently behind bars for the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, is allowed to mix with children during prison visiting hours according to new rules.
The Metro reports that the move has come following ‘equality laws’ for the prisoners.
Schoolgirls Holly and Jessica, at 10-years-old, went missing in 2002, and after one of the biggest manhunts Britain has ever seen, former school caretaker Huntley was arrested for their murder.
During the search for the girls, Huntley acted as a concerned citizen giving TV interviews and offering ‘help’. His then-girlfriend, Maxine Carr, supplied the killer with a false alibi.
In 2003, Huntley was convicted in a murder trial and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
The 45-year-old is serving his time at HMP Frankland, Durham, where he, along with others in prison for paedophilia, were previously separated from other cons and their families during visits, The Sun reports.
Other inmates include: high profile criminals, Millie Dowler’s murderer, Levi Bellfield, ‘Babes in the Wood’ killer, Russell Bishop and The Yorkshire Ripper.
However, in spite of their crimes against children, officials have reportedly relaxed the rules to allow prisoners to mix with kids who are visiting inmates for up to two hours at a time.
The change has come about after fears that isolating certain prisoners could be classed as ‘discrimination’.
The news was shared with convicts in a notice last month, which read:
The governor is committed to providing an area for domestic visits which is safe, decent and an appropriate environment which will help prisoners to strengthen ties with their families.
Strong family ties help individuals to cope with life post- conviction and are also known to help reduce anti-social behaviour both in custody and in the community.
According to The Sun, one visitor described how he felt when he took his 5-year-old son to the prison, finding himself in close proximity to Huntley.
As I sat down, there he was, right next to us. I was furious.
Who on earth thinks putting a paedophile serving a sentence for killing children into a room with young kids is a good idea?
I don’t care if they say he’s being watched at all times. It isn’t right.
The father complained to a prison officer, who told him governors did not want cons to feel ‘victimised’. After his visit, he put in a written complaint to the establishment that stated he would not visit again until the situation had changed.
A prison official responded to the complaint, explaining they take ‘safety very seriously, especially when it comes to members of the public’, but adding ‘we cannot discriminate against any prisoner, as we pride ourselves on treating all prisoners as equals’.
The controversial decision is understood to have been taken locally by HMP Frankland, but is not official Prison Service policy, and it has been the cause of a lot of anger from affected families.
Responding to the news of the changed rules, Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said:
These are very dangerous prisoners who have committed heinous crimes.
I do hope that the Prison Service has carried out a full assessment of the risks to the public, and also the risks to the prisoners themselves.
The prison needs to make full consideration of all factors.
A Prison Service spokeswoman has stressed trained officers always closely supervise visits.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.