Safety fears after round-the-clock monitoring of rapist axed

Robert Greens
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CALLS were made today for greater clarity over the reasons behind the “severe” downgrading of super- vision for the Da Vinci rapist Robert Greens.

Residents in the New Town area, where the 34-year-old is staying in a hostel, have been left fearing for their safety after confirmation that the round-the-clock monitoring of Greens had been axed.

A mob gathers in Dalkeith where Greens was first housed

A mob gathers in Dalkeith where Greens was first housed

The demands came as Midlothian Council claimed yesterday that a decision to remove the two social workers was not due to cost, but followed a fresh risk assessment of Greens under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa).

Yesterday, the News revealed that a lawyer representing Chief Constable David Strang told Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday that Greens, who continues to deny he raped his victim, still posed a “very serious risk” to the public in the eyes of police, but supervision had been “significantly dropped for financial reasons”.

Lothians Tory MSP Gavin Brown called for an explanation into why any financial concerns over Greens’ supervision were raised in court.Sarah Boyack, Lothians Labour MSP, also called for more clarity in the decision-making process to ensure “public safety” was kept paramount.

On Tuesday, Midlothian Council was unable to say whether cost was a factor in determining Greens’ current supervision when asked by the Evening News.

Yesterday, a joint council and police statement said that “the decision was not made on financial grounds” but council chiefs and police were unable to say why “financial reasons” had been raised in court.

A meeting between Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan, the local authority’s chief executive, Kenneth Lawrie and director of social work, Evelyn McHugh, was held yesterday to discuss Greens’ monitoring.

Afterwards, Councillor Milligan said the move to reduce supervision on Greens was “100 per cent based on risk assessment”, adding that he would have demanded it was reintroduced if that was not the case.

Mr Brown said he was “concerned” over Greens’ reduction in supervision less than three months after being released from jail.

He said: “[Greens] is an individual who the police clearly believe is a danger to the public. There is quite a severe change in someone needing two social workers with him at all times to not needing any.

“Lawyers take instructions from their clients, they don’t go into court off their own bat. I think the authorities have to explain how a lawyer from the police could have spoken about financial reasons being involved in this decision.

“Decisions should be taken according to what is the correct procedure and approach. That should not be dictated by cost. We need to ensure that we do not underspend on the justice system when times are tough.”

Lewis Macdonald MSP, Labour’s justice spokesman, said: “We have always argued that supervision should be based on a risk assessment. If they are saying that is what happened in this case then it’s difficult to argue with. Clearly, that will be a difficult message for the public to hear.

“Risk assessment is a professional task for professional people and the public have to be confident that they get it right.”

Lothians Labour MSP Sarah Boyack said: “The key issue here is public safety. I think we need clarity on how the decision to downgrade his supervision was made to ensure it was one taken on the grounds of public safety and not for financial reasons.”

After being released from prison in January, Greens had two social workers living with him 24 hours a day to ensure someone was “always awake” to monitor him. Under the new supervision structure, Greens is under curfew from 8pm to 8am and wears an electronic tag.

Greens, jailed for the 2005 rape of a 19-year-old Dutch student near Rosslyn Chapel, Midlothian, also has a support worker from voluntary community justice group Sacro present with him overnight.

Previously, he was not allowed to leave home alone, and was under curfews from 8pm to 8am, and 1pm to 3pm, the maximum allowed by law.

A former workmate of Greens also criticised the change in his monitoring levels. He said: “Greens was a horrible, horrible little man when I used to work with him on the roads. I wasn’t surprised when I found out he was charged with rape. He was a violent person. He’s still a very dangerous man and the public need to be protected from him.”

It also emerged during Tuesday’s court hearing that Greens, a diagnosed psychopath, continues to deny he raped his victim, telling social workers: “I’m not a beast.”

Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan said: “I asked for a meeting with the council chief executive and director of social work. I was 100 per cent assured by them that the decisions they take regarding supervision are not based on finances.

“No decision was taken on financial grounds. This was done as a risk assessment and was jointly taken by all partners, including Lothian and Borders Police.”

Lib Dem councillor Ken Brown, who represents the Penicuik ward, said: “If people of that calibre, who are specialists, take the view that less supervision is required then they must’ve come to that decision from a logical series of steps. I’m confident that budget pressures would have played no part in this decision.”

Detective Superintendent Alan Crawford, chair of the Edinburgh and Lothian Mappa, which deals with high-risk cases, said: “This decision was taken after lengthy discussion with all agencies involved in the Mappa process, and the decision was not made on financial grounds. In all Mappa cases the protection of the public is paramount and the safety of the community is always at the heart of these joint discussions and decisions.”

PROTEST THREAT

RESIDENTS in the New Town may stage protests against Robert Greens, who is living in a hostel in the area, a community leader said today.

Greens is believed to be staying at the hostel in the Capital and has been spotted at the windows of the accommodation in recent days. One community leader said that fears over the threat posed by Greens may spark a demonstration similar to the protests seen when the convicted rapist was rehoused in Midlothian following his release from prison. He said: “People here are very worried. Greens has been spotted at the window of the hostel, often shirtless. There is a lot of anxiety about him staying here, particularly now he does not have the same supervision.

“I would not condone this, but I believe we may end up seeing a protest here. It’s something that people are concerned about.”

On February 3, more than 100 people marched on Midlothian Council’s head office to protest after Greens was housed in Dalkeith.

Greens ‘still serious risk to public’

EDINBURGH Sheriff Court heard on Tuesday that supervision of Greens had been cut back due to costs during a hearing on his interim sexual offences prevention order (Sopo).

Andy McGlone, representing Chief Constable David Strang, said the “round-the-clock monitoring” had been “significantly dropped for financial reasons, not because police considered him any less of a risk”.

He added: “They are trying to re-integrate him into the community. I’m told that it’s going well, but he still represents a very serious risk of sexual harm to the public”.

Sheriff McColl continued the interim Sopo until a hearing next month to allow Greens’ Legal Aid application to fight the order to continue.

Under the interim Sopo, Greens is restricted from approaching children, has prohibitions on travel, no internet access, has to notify the police of any change in his appearance, and is excluded from certain areas of Midlothian.