A guy with a history of violence sexually assaulted and murdered a law graduate due to probation staff errors, according to a report.
Jordan McSweeney, 29 years old, assaulted Zara Aleena in June 2022, nine days after his parole release.
Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell discovered that he was incorrectly categorized. As a “medium risk” by employees who were “under increasing pressure” at the time.
The government stated that “immediate efforts” are being made to resolve the issues.
Mr. Russell further stated that it was “difficult” to determine whether or not the public was safe due to the “quality” of work performed by sections of the probation service.
In December, a judge at the Old Bailey sentenced McSweeney to a minimum of 38 years in prison for the “terrifying and brutal” attack on 35-year-old Ms. Aleena.
He confessed viciously kicking and stamping on the trainee attorney. Who was walking home in Ilford, east London, at the time of the attack. According to Mr. Russell’s assessment, McSweeney has 28 prior convictions for 69 various offenses spanning back 17 years.
Probation Service errors detailed in report
The habitual thief from Dagenham, east London, was described in court as a “broken person”. Who endured a terrible upbringing in which domestic violence was “commonplace.” He was placed in foster care and dismissed from school; for money, he peddled narcotics and engaged in bare-knuckle fights.
Before the 26 June attack on Ms. Aleena, McSweeney had served nine prison terms for offenses including burglary, theft, and possession of an offensive weapon. In addition, he had a documented history of violence against former partners.
Mr. Russell’s probation officer was assigned nine days before his release, giving little time for supervision preparation.
The audit concluded that information about McSweeney’s aggressive behavior. Including the contents of a restraining order issued against him in 2021, was not included in his probation assessment. At the time of his release, it was unknown where he would reside. And he was not monitored with an electronic tag.
McSweeney’s license was quickly suspended due to his refusal to attend probation officer meetings; nevertheless. It was not decided until June 24 that he should be returned to prison, according to the report. Two days later, he murdered Aleena. One employee was disciplined as a result of the incident.
The investigation stated, “Once the decision (to recall McSweeney) was taken. There were delays in signing the appropriate paperwork to trigger the recall. Had this been done sooner, the police would have had more possibilities to locate and arrest McSweeney.”
McSweeney was rated as a medium risk since his offenses, prison behaviour. And criminal history was “examined in isolation,” according to Mr. Russell’s assessment. If the Probation Service had correctly identified McSweeney as a high-risk offender. It is possible that more immediate action would have been taken after his release.
Mr. Russell stated, “The Probation Service failed to do so. And he was free to commit this most horrible act against an innocent young woman.”
The top probation inspector stated that there is a “chronic” lack of probation officers in England, notably in London.
He said the last evaluation found 500 unfilled posts in capital areas with a 50% vacancy rate.
Mr. Russell stated, “In this particular example, we discovered a severely overburdened senior probation officer supervising a probation officer who had 50 percent more work than they should have.”
When asked if the public was safe, he responded that it was “difficult to determine… given the level of work that occasionally occurs in local probation regions.”
Ministry of Justice has recruited 2,500 probation officers
During the past 18 months, HM Inspectorate of Probation ranked ten out of seventeen probation areas in England and Wales as “inadequate,” which Mr. Russell described as “simply unacceptable.”
In the past two years, the Ministry of Justice has recruited 2,500 probation officers. And plans to recruit 1,500 more by March.
In addition, less than 0.5% of the more than two hundred thousand offenders subject to probation supervision each year were convicted of another significant offense.
The study contains nine suggestions, including a demand for an immediate senior-led assessment to ensure that all personnel grasps the distinction between high-risk and medium-risk offenders.
Minister of Policing Chris Philp stated that the Probation Service had accepted the suggestions “in full” and that they will all be implemented.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, stated that the Probation Service’s “failure” in this instance was “symptomatic of broader concerns” and blamed “government policies and austerity.”
“This must never happen again,” he said.
Women and girls have the right to be safe and to feel protected at all times and in all places. If these failures had not occurred, Zara would still be alive. And her family would not have to suffer the burden of a life without her.
Zara Aleena was murdered on her way home from a night out by a sexual predator. Who had just been released from jail and was deemed a “threat to any woman.”
The general secretary of the probation and family court union Napo, Ian Lawrence, stated that he would not blame employees who were “doing their best to hold the service together.”
“I believe the secretary of state for justice is solely responsible for this systemic failure. I want him or her to meet with me and practitioners to realise how hard it is on the front lines.”
Prisons and Probation Minister Damian Hinds stated that “urgent efforts” were being taken to address the significant issues presented by the McSweeney and Damien Bendall cases.
Mr. Hinds stated that this entailed instituting required training to enhance risk assessments. And implementing new procedures to ensure the prompt recall of offenders.