Full text of Blunkett statement
LONDON, England -- The following is the text of Home Secretary David Blunkett's Commons written reply:
The Parole Board has informed me today of their decision, subject to conditions, to direct the release on life licence of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables who were convicted in November 1993 of the murder of James Bulger.
At the time of the murder both were 10-years-old and James Bulger was two. I would wish to make it clear at the outset that this means that Thompson and Venables will be on licence for the rest of their lives.
They will be subject to strict licence conditions and liable to immediate recall if there is any concern at any time about their risk.
First, I offer my deepest sympathy to the family of James Bulger. The circumstances of the killing were horrific and had a profound impact throughout the United Kingdom and beyond.
We will never forget it and I can well understand how distressing it is for James's family now to hear the news. We all understand that their grief for the loss of their son in such horrible circumstances continues and our thoughts are with them as much today as over the whole period.
Decisions about the release of those convicted of murder when under the age of 18 are the responsibility of the independent Parole Board. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, decided on 26 October 2000 that the tariff for both Thompson and Venables should expire immediately.
Before arriving at his decision he had carefully considered reports on Thompson and Venables and information provided by James Bulger's family.
My predecessor, my Right Honourable Friend the Foreign Secretary, accepted this recommendation as he was bound to do, for the reasons he gave in a statement to the House on 13 March 2000.
The tariff is the minimum period a person must serve for retribution and deterrence. Once it has expired an offender is released only where the Parole Board, after a very thorough consideration, is satisfied that there is no unacceptable risk to the public.
A Parole Board panel under the chairmanship of a senior High Court judge and including a consultant psychiatrist and an experienced independent member considered both cases.
I know that they will have given very careful attention to the detailed reports compiled in each of these cases.
The panel also heard evidence from expert witnesses and will have reached its decisions about risk in accordance with its statutory responsibilities.
It is not appropriate for me to comment on the arrangements for the release of Thompson and Venables as there is a High Court injunction in force to protect their identities and whereabouts from being revealed.
However, I can say that the call on public funds will be the minimum necessary to ensure their self-reliance, further education and training and the safety of themselves and the public.
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