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MPs agree police be allowed to arrest prisoners suspected of parole breach

MPs have backed a get-tough policy on paroled prisoners who breach the terms of their release.

Now prisoners suspected of breaking parole conditions can be arrested on the spot by police.

Previously, parole offenders had to be recalled by the Parole Board and could only be arrested if a warrant was issued by a magistrate for failing to attend the hearing.

National Security Minister Michael Dunkley said the new law fulfilled a Throne Speech promise made last year.

He added: “This Bill delivers on this promise and is yet another legislative means to assist law enforcement in disrupting the rhythm of antisocial and gang behaviour and institutes a clear regime for the enforcement of parole conditions with consequences for breaches.”

But he said that officers would need to have “reasonable grounds” for suspecting a parole breach.

Mr Dunkley added: “The parolee's supervising officer must consider it to be in the public interest to recall the person.

“These and other safeguards in the Bill are designed to provide a balance between these new police powers and the rights of the individual.

“It must, however, be borne in mind that an inmate released on parole has not completed his sentence but is on licence and the regime surrounding his conduct is deliberately strict.”

Mr Dunkley said that the new law also codified the conditions of parole.

He said: “We know that the risk of reoffending is increased if parolees are exposed to the destructive elements that led to their original incarceration.”

And Mr Dunkley added that the new law “makes it clear that the Parole Board can impose conditions aimed at keeping parolees away from people, groups and venues that are unsuitable and may adversely affect their rehabilitation.”

Mr Dunkley also thanked Parole Board chairman and former PLP Government Minister Ashfield DeVent and the board for their work and “the even-handed manner in which they administer the parole of inmates.”

The new law was passed during Monday's session in the House of Assembly.

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Published March 19, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 19, 2014 at 12:36 am)

MPs agree police be allowed to arrest prisoners suspected of parole breach

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