Statement on the Sonnex Case

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in Parliamentary News

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): It is typical of my right hon. Friend to come to the House to accept responsibility for the failings of his Department, but I am afraid that what he has said will not satisfy the parents of those who have died. Anyone who has read the victim impact assessment statements will know that the parents do not feel that what has been said so far has been satisfactory. My right hon. Friend talks about an increase in resources, but last year, as he said in an answer to me, the number of sick days in the probation service was 239,000. Replacing the chief executive of London Probation is simply not sufficient. Will he give the House an assurance that he will seek a very early meeting with the new Home Secretary, who has just left the Chamber, to address the communication problems so that when a request is made in the future, it is implemented immediately rather than in 33 days, which is the time it took for the last request from the probation service to be implemented by the police?

Mr. Straw: I will talk—indeed, I have already done so—to the new Home Secretary. I am grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Keith Vaz) for his comments. As I have highlighted in my answers to him, the level of sickness in some parts of London Probation was simply unacceptable. Given the shock created by this lamentable failure, as with the shock felt about similar previous incidents, improvements have been made, but we have to ensure that we raise the overall standard of management of the probation service, the police and the Prison Service in the handling of these dangerous offenders.