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Reviews of serious reoffending by prisoners should be reviewed say ministers

Plans to transfer responsibility of serious reoffending reviews to HM Probation have been shelved.

Politicians have called for inquiries into serious offences committed by recently released prisoners to be made public.

The calls come after the family of murdered Rhys Jones, who was killed by a man released from prison five days earlier, were initially denied access to a report which questioned whether the killer’s risk levels should have been reassessed.

The 36 year-old was stabbed to death by Rhys Barnes in November 2015 in a supported housing hostel in Newport they were both living in.

Barnes, 28, had 17 previous convictions for 41 separate offences including grievous bodily harm, assault and carrying offensive weapons.

He was sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 26 years in March last year.

A review into the murder questioned whether or not Barnes’ level of risk to the public should have been reassessed.

The findings of the review were shared between support staff across Wales "to highlight areas of learning so that staff across the organisation can embed the learning into their own practice".

However the BBC reports Mr Jones’ family had to push to see the report after initially being told it “would not benefit” them to discover the findings.

Labour MP for Delyn David Hanson, a member of the justice select committee in Westminster, said it was important families and the publicare told  what has gone wrong in cases such as these.

He said: "That means the report has to be published for the victim, but also for those like myself who take an interest to make sure the system is working well," he said.

"Without that we think something may well be hidden and something may not be dealt with that could be dealt with."

Labour's Newport East AM John Griffiths, who had been supporting Mr Jones' family, added: "I would pay tribute to Rhys' family because they've shown dogged determination to try and ensure that the whole of the circumstances are understood, and that lessons are learnt for the future, crucially, to try and minimise the chances of further tragic loss of life in these sorts of circumstances,”

"The more openness the better, for public confidence; if people feel things are being hidden that arouses suspicions and concern."

Tania Bassett, of the National Association of Probation Officers, called on the government to honour its pledge to transfer management of serious further offence reviews from the probation service to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation.

She said: "We welcome that [the transfer] because it would apply a much more consistent approach across the board: everyone would have the same treatment, it would be an external independent body looking at that investigation rather than those who may have their own commercial interests, and also it would mean greater transparency for the public, which we think is the right way forward."

The National Probation Service said: "Serious further offences such as this [Mr Jones's murder] are rare but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully.

"Public protection is our priority. A full review was undertaken and all identified learning was taken forward."