by Linda McDonald
One day in 2017 I took my dog on our regular walk in Clatto Woods in Dundee. From nowhere, I was brutally attacked by a convicted murderer who was on license from prison. Thankfully my cries for help were heard by brave individuals that came to my rescue. Their heroic and selfless acts are the reason I can share this story with you.
I now want to prevent others from the risk of similar scenarios and make sure that all members of the public can safely visit our streets, parks, pathways and woodlands in Scotland. On uncovering the grave errors which led to my attempted murder, I realise that we need more robust and consistent multi agency protection with proportionate levels of public safeguards against high risk offenders. We need to address key failures in the current system and advocate for no release when the stakes are too high.
As I now live with the trauma of my attack, help me fight to protect the lives of innocent women, men, children and families. Be part of a campaign that raises a voice for those who can never be heard.
The Failure Points
The justice I seek is to address the failure points which occurred in my case, so that others are protected from the harm and trauma that I now live with.
The main failures are linked to MAPPA and how it failed to fulfill its purpose. Before my incident I had never heard of MAPPA before. I now know that it has a vital role in protecting the public from high risk offenders released from prison.
The Scottish Government states that the purpose of MAPPA is public protection and the reduction of serious harm. In Scotland the MAPPA brings together the Police, Scottish Prison Service (SPS), Health and the Local Authorities, in partnership as the Responsible Local Authorities, to assess and manage the risk posed for certain categories of offender:
Sex offenders who are subject to notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Mentally disordered restricted patients.
Other offenders who are assessed by the Responsible Authorities as posing a risk of serious harm by reason of their conviction.
Unfortunately in my case, the MAPPA members failed to fulfill their responsibilities and more damaging is that to date, they are avoiding any clear explanation of what the failures were and how they are being addressed. If we want Scotland to be a place where people feel safe from serious harm, we need to expose these failure points and fix them.
After an accurate assessment that categorised my attacker as a Category 3 offender, he should either have not been released or only released under high level surveillance and management.
Why was a category 3 prisoner deemed safe to release and what conditions and safeguards were attached to his release?
The police has a role to carry out any surveillance or routine checks.
What checks and conditions were planned and carried out. What breaches were made and if there were breaches, why was the license not recalled?
The probation service has a role to ensure that there is a handover from the prison team to the local team and that license conditions are adhered to.
What was handed over by the prison through care team, what were the additional conditions of his compulsory supervision or license and how were these monitored?