The Prison Service has five jails that house only sex offenders after the number of offences nearly doubled in the last decade, it has been revealed.
The prisons are Whatton in Nottinghamshire, Bure in Norfolk, Usk in Wales, Albany on the Isle of Wight and the newest – Ashfield in Pucklechurch near Bristol. At the same time, over 50 per cent of inmates in prisons at Wakefield, Parkhurst, Maidstone and Little Hey in Cambridgeshire are convicted sex offenders.
The focus on the dedicated prisons came after the former BBC presenter Stuart Hall started his 15-month sentence for touching young girls inappropriately (an allegation of rape was kept on the court file). Some have said the sentence is too lenient but Hall's lawyers argued that he was no Jimmy Saville who had abused 100 times more people than Hall. He had done "no more, no less" than touch or attempt to touch the girls, although one was nine years old at the time.
The emphasis on the prisons could become more intense as people come forward with allegations of abuse by celebrities or people in positions of power. TV actors and presenters, PR 'gurus', radio presenters, possibly even rock stars, are coming under the spotlight for their alleged behaviour of up to 40 years ago.
The Ministry of Justice has set up a Sex Offender Management Board to oversee how sex offenders are dealt with and treated.
A Prison Service spokesperson was quoted in the Times as saying: "There are a number of benefits from housing sex offenders together, with specialist resources, security and highly trained staff ensuring that they are held in a safe but challenging environment where they are more likely to admit to their offences."