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Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Lee Anderson Lee Anderson Conservative, Ashfield 3:43 pm, 11th February 2020

I have two sons and I cannot imagine life without them, let alone losing one to a murderer. When Helen McCourt was murdered in 1988 her family lost a beautiful young lady with her whole life ahead of her. It is impossible to understand the pain that they must have felt all those years ago, but of course, the pain has not stopped, because the cruelty continues. It is indeed cruel not to allow grieving families the opportunity to lay their loved ones to rest. This cruelty must be dealt with.

Helen’s law will mean that the Parole Board must consider this cruelty when reviewing an offender’s suitability for release. A murderer who refuses to reveal the location of a victim’s body is not suitable for release. Parole Board guidance makes it clear that offenders who withhold information may still pose a risk to the public and could therefore be denied parole. Helen’s law will, however, make it a legal requirement for the Parole Board to consider the withholding of information when deciding whether an offender should be released.

Helen’s law follows the tireless campaigning of Marie McCourt, Helen’s mother. I want to praise the bravery and tenacity of Helen’s mum, who through a terrible tragedy has managed to bring about these much-needed changes. Murderers who refuse to disclose where their victims are located only prolong the suffering of innocent families and deny them a proper burial. This legislation will mean that families will not have to endure a lifetime of suffering and not knowing where their loved ones’ remains are. It is said that time is a great healer, but not in cases like this. The only thing that can help to start healing the wounds is to support victims’ families through this Bill.