Saughton killers could feature in new parole TV documentary

A general view of Saughton prison. Picture: Greg Macvean
A general view of Saughton prison. Picture: Greg Macvean
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SOME of the Capital’s most notorious criminals could feature in a new television documentary about their bids to walk free.

Programme makers have gained unprecedented access to the Parole Board in Scotland, with killers in Saughton likely to feature.

The one-hour special for Channel 4 will reveal the process that determines whether a serious criminal is safe to be released back into society.

“We are very grateful to be given this level of access,” said executive producer Jane Rogerson of Glasgow-based makers Red Sky Productions.

“It gives us the opportunity to open the door on a process that has remained secret and so is little understood.”

Programme makers hope it will shed light on what they call an “often poorly understood and always contentious” part of our legal system.

Featuring interviews and media reports of crimes, it will document the process involving those serving life for murder, culpable homicide, and other serious crimes.

Programme makers accept behind every decision the board makes are life-changing ramifications for the prisoners, victims and society.

The documentary will gain first-hand insight from the prisoner preparing for their parole board hearing and their family anticipating the prospect of early release. Also interviewed will be social workers, prison governors, psychiatrists and police whose reports play a crucial role in the hearing.

Victims or their families of any prisoners featuring will be informed ahead of broadcast and approached to take part also.

“The decision of the Parole Board is final. There is currently no right of appeal, only scarcely used judicial reviews,” said Ms Rogerson. “This makes for an agonizing and anxious process for all involved.”

Ms Rogerson said the Worboys case in England was an example for the implications of a decision.

“We want viewers to understand the responsibilities faced by parole board members weighing victim concerns against the hope that parole can offer to prisoners wishing to rebuild their lives after punishment,” she added.

As well as the parole board, the Scottish Prison Service, Criminal Justice Social Work teams and other key agencies are also involved.

Programme makers hope such comprehensive access will allow viewers to better understand the preparation, planning and emotions that often go into decisions.

Tom Porter, Commissioning Editor, said: “This film will deliver on Channel 4’s ambition to examine difficult issues facing those in authority in the UK.

“It’s exciting to be working on this project in Scotland 
with Scottish producers, looking at this most difficult of subjects.”

A spokesman for the Parole Board for Scotland said: “We agreed to participate in this project as we are supportive of moves to improve transparency and awareness in relation to the Board’s work.

“We have agreed with the programme makers that our participation is on the basis that the rights and interests of all those involved in the process are respected.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com