Monday 11 March 2013 9.39am
This is a really difficult issue and I can understand those who have concerns.
There have been London Probation Trust 'Approved Premises' on the Aylesbury Estate adjacent to Burgess Park
for over 30 years. These are premises where released long-term prisoners come for strictly supervised periods of up to 6 months prior to their full integration back into the community. There are 12 other premises in London.
To my knowledge, during the last 30 years there has only ever been 1 minor criminal matter reported against the residents of the approved premises on the Aylesbury.
As part of the regeneration of the Aylesbury, and in order to address the current condition of the premises there, Southwark has been in negotiations with the Ministry of Justice and the London Probation Trust about moving them to another location in the borough. The site on the corner of the Old Kent Road
/ Rotherhithe New Road is one of the sites which has been carefully considered and is believed to be suitable.
I think it's important to remember that our justice system works on the basis of punishment and rehabilitation. As a society we cannot have the punishment without also seeking to rehabilitate those who have served their punishment. The Approved Premises on the Aylesbury and proposed at the Old Kent Road
are a part of that rehabilitation process for those who have been in prison for a long time.
I am assured by the Probation Trust that those who move to Approved Premises only do so after careful consideration by the parole board and at the end of their sentence. They are not considered a danger in any way - otherwise they would not be released from prison. I guess if we didn't have approved premises released prisoners would go straight from prison to a new home in the community - without any close supervision as they currently receive at the approved premises.
I can understand the anxiety about the current proposals. I believe it is misplaced, but I also believe that some of the opposition to the proposal appears to challenge our fundamental approach to criminal justice in this country.
The council is continuing to look at other possible alternative sites in the borough, but as others have already rightly observed, you're never too far from schools, homes, shops or transport in our borough.