Panorama exposes failure to protect public from dangerous criminals
A Panorama investigation uncovers the failure to protect the public from dangerous criminals in Exposed: The Bail Hostel Scandal on BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 8 November 2006.
The programme spent five months working undercover in two bail hostels, used to house many high-risk and prolific offenders.
Panorama has learned that criminals have killed while supposedly being monitored and supervised at these hostels.
It found that dangerous paedophiles are free to roam the streets, confident that they are not being watched by probation or police.
The programme also witnessed criminals pimping and shop-lifting to pay for their drug habits - without fear of being punished, despite staying in a hostel specialising in weaning offenders off drugs.
A predatory paedophile, supposedly living under one of the strictest surveillance regimes in the country, is filmed secretly taking pictures in a busy shopping centre and hanging around public toilets.
In another shocking image, a paedophile child killer is seen befriending children, whose parents knew nothing of his past.
Hostel managers admit that, once offenders leave the building, they have no idea what they get up to.
A senior worker was secretly recorded saying: "We can keep an eye on them until they walk to the end of that path; once they turn left or right we haven't got a clue what they are doing."
Panorama reports from the Ashley House and Brigstocke Road bail hostels in Bristol.
While supposedly being monitored and supervised at Brigstocke Road last year, a violent serial offender robbed and murdered taxi-driver Colin Winstone, 44, just seven weeks after being granted early release from prison.
A staff member at the hostel was secretly recorded revealing to Panorama that the hostel had warned the probation service that 41-year-old Davidson Charles was re-offending prior to the murder - but that nothing was done.
He said: "That taxi driver should never have been killed. We provided his probation officer with enough evidence to recall him."
Paedophiles living in the hostel are also filmed engaging in activities which could see them sent back to prison. But it soon becomes clear the authorities aren't watching.
One offender, also at Brigstocke Road - Frank Parker, who spent 39 years in prison for killing a child - is seen repeatedly returning to flats where he has befriended a group of young mums and their children.
The discovery comes just weeks after the 61-year-old was warned for taking photographs of a semi-naked 17-year-old girl, in the bail hostel itself.
When Panorama called the police about Parker's friendship with the children, the probation service were not informed.
Another paedophile, Kevin Rodgers, 31, who has repeatedly offended against children, is caught on film wandering around Bristol city centre surreptitiously taking pictures of shoppers.
While being 'held' at Ashley House last year, a drug user with convictions for violent crime battered a father to death with a claw hammer.
James Long, 28, left the three-year-old son of Scott Marshall, 45, in the flat with his father's body for three days.
Other residents at Ashley House are witnessed both going out while on heroin and stealing around town to fund their habits.
One assistant manager was secretly recorded saying: "So they're using all night, smoking crack, smoking smack, whatever the hell their tipple is, so they're totally off their heads by the morning 'cause they're knackered because they've been up all night."
In light of the findings, Panorama examines the truth behind the Government's claims that once out in the community criminals are supervised and monitored.
It found that hostels have long provided an important service in terms of public protection - but that, as British prisons reach capacity, they are being forced to take more and more high-risk offenders.
If offenders break their conditions of release, they are told they could be recalled to prison. But some seem to brazenly breach their conditions with little or no comeback.
Staff are often left to deal with criminals with mental health issues and histories of prolific or violent crime without any proper training.
As one workers says: "Sometimes this place is like a mini-crime wave for the area."
There are 104 bail hostels in England and Wales, housing 2,000 residents on various court orders and on licence from prison.