The Government is to review the way the Parole Board operates amid anger among victims of black cab rapist John Worboys at the prospect of his imminent release, Theresa May has said.
The Prime Minister said she was determined to do “what is necessary” to bring greater openness to the decision-making process and restore confidence in the system.
The decision to free the serial sex attacker nine years after he was jailed prompted dismay from victims, as well as questions around why all of the 102 complainants had not seen their cases brought to trial.
There were also criticisms over a failure to inform some victims of his planned release.
Appearing on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mrs May disclosed that she knew one of Worboys’s victims who had not been told that he was to be released.
“I know somebody who was one of his victims and who was not contacted and first heard of what was happening through the the media.
“So I recognise why people are so concerned about this,” she said.
“Obviously the Parole Board operates independently, but I think it’s right that we as a Government are saying that we should look at the question of openness and that we should look at this whole issue too of how victims are kept in touch with what is happening.”
Theresa May speaks to Andrew Marr (Jeff Overs/PA)
She added: “We want to ensure that victims feel confident enough to come forward so that they feel confident that the police will take action and confident that they will get justice.
“The Justice department will be looking at that over the next couple of months, they’ll be asking the question do we need to do things in a different way and, whatever the answer, is we’ll do what is necessary.”
Her comments came after Justice Secretary David Lidington said he would be looking at ways to increase transparency in the system.
He said: “John Worboys was convicted of horrific crimes. My thoughts and unreserved sympathy are with his victims for whom news of the Parole Board’s decision to order Worboys’ release must have reawakened the most appalling memories.
“While it is right that the Parole Board should remain an independent body, I believe that there is a strong case to review how to allow greater openness about the decision-making process.
“We also need to make sure arrangements across the criminal justice system ensure victims are both heard and, if they wish, kept informed about their case.”
John Worboys’ cab (Met Police/PA)
He said discussions have been held “about what changes we could make to help victims of crime and provide greater transparency about the Board’s work”.
Mr Lidington said victims’ groups would be consulted, and that work would start “now” to ensure decisions on any changes can be taken before Easter.
Worboys, a former stripper and adult film star, was found guilty of 19 charges of drugging and sexually assaulting 12 women passengers, in one case raping a woman.
He was jailed indefinitely in 2009, with a minimum term of eight years.
One victim said finding out that Worboys was to be released from a news report rather than the authorities had left her feeling “cheated and betrayed”.