Joseph McCann: Serial rapist carried out 11 attacks after major failings by 'unstable' probation team
29 June 2020, 15:15 | Updated: 30 June 2020, 07:21
Serial rapist Joseph McCann was free to attack his victims when he was mistakenly released from prison due to "major failings" by "unstable" and inexperienced probation staff, a review has found.
Officials were warned McCann had the hallmarks of a sex offender as early as 2011, but probation officers missed eight chances to keep him behind bars, according to an independent case review.
The 34-year-old dealt with 10 staff over the 11 years he was known to authorities and had three different probation officers in the months before he was wrongly released from prison in February 2019, the report added.
He went on to rape, abduct and assault 11 women and children between the ages of 11 and 71 in a terrifying 15-day rampage two months later.
A review of the case ordered by Justice Secretary Robert Buckland and carried out by Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell laid bare repeated errors in failing to recall McCann to prison despite him posing a major risk.
Weeks before he carried out the attacks in Watford, London and the North West of England, he was automatically released from jail due to a probation service mistake, the review found.
But had he been recalled to prison, he would have been kept behind bars until a parole board decided he was safe to release, it said.
Mr Russell said in the report: "McCann was managed by an unstable team, lacking experienced and skilled practitioners.
"They suffered from poor management oversight, high workloads, poor performance and high staff turnover."
Crucial information, recorded on different systems by various authorities, was "lost" in handovers between staff, he added.
But "most worryingly" prison staff did not share information about the risk posed by McCann with probation, meaning staff did "not have a clear picture" of who they were dealing with and were making decisions based on "inadequate" assessments.
McCann should have been given a bed in a bail hostel where he could be regularly monitored, but instead he was allowed to stay with family where close checks on him weren't possible, the review found.
Among 13 recommendations made, Mr Russell called for more beds to be made available for freed prisoners at approved premises.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said in response: "These were horrendous crimes and we have apologised to the victims for the unacceptable failings in this case.
"We have greatly improved information sharing between prisons and probation officers and all probation staff have received new, mandatory training on when offenders should be recalled."
The government has also "bolstered" frontline staff and now have 800 probation officers in training, they added.
McCann forced two 14-year-old girls into a car by threatening to "chop them up" with a machete, his Old Bailey trial heard.
In another terrifying incident, he tricked his way into the home of a woman he met in a bar in Greater Manchester, tied her up and molested her children, aged 17 and 11, jurors were told.
He was found guilty of 37 charges relating to 11 victims, including eight rapes, false imprisonment and kidnap.
The second part of the review into his case is due to be published in the autumn.