You are currently viewing Helens Law Has Come Into Force

Helens Law Has Come Into Force

January – 2021

In February, 1988 Helen McCourt, aged 22 was an insurance clerk who vanished on her way home from work after getting of the bus, her body has never been found. A pub landlord called Ian Simms was later arrested on suspicion of Helens murder, some of her possession’s was found dumped in the River Irwell 20 miles away, the possession’s that was found included a knotted flex which contained strands of Helens hair. Once the police searched Ian Simms car one of her earrings were found also traces of her blood was found in the boot of his car. It was then later on in the investigation it was revealed Ian had made uninvited advances towards her at the pub he ran called The George And Dragon pub in Billinge, Merseyside. Ian Simms was given a life sentence with a minimum tariff of 16 years, he was eligible to be considered for release in February 2004 but was declined and went on to serve almost double his 16 year jail term. Ian Simms claimed in court he was framed and he has always refused to reveal the location of her remains and unfortunately Helen has never been found.

Helens Law came into effect on 4th January, 2021, Helens mother Marie started a campaign in 2015 to change the law regarding the conviction of killers, requiring them to reveal the whereabouts of their victims remains before being considered for parole. The Prisoner’s Act 2020 (Disclosure of information About Victims) known as the Helens Law will also apply to paedophiles who refuse to identify those they abused. Under the law, killers still could be released from prison if they are no longer deemed a risk to the public even if they still refuse to disclose information. But the parole board will be legally required to consider whether they have co-operated with inquires as part of their assessment. Human rights laws have prevented the UK into introducing a “no body, no parole” rule, which the government warned may have faced successful legal challenges in courts. It is hoped the form the legislation has taken will lead to more killers owning up to their crimes, providing answers for grieving families.

In a post on Twitter, The Helens Law campaign group said: ” After five years of campaigning, three quarters of a million signature of support, two trips to Downing Street, three visits to Parliament and countless meetings with MPs and Ministers, Helens Law was added to the statue book at 00.01am today. Thank you for supporting.”

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he was “delighted” Helens Law had been enacted, adding: “Marie McCourt and other campaigners can be immensely proud. Thanks to their efforts more families should get the answers and closure they deserve.” Mr Buckland also said the law sent a ” clear message” that ” those who refuse to disclose information about their victims should expect to face longer in prison.”

Last Month, Parole Board Chief executive Martin Jones said that although prisoners will be questioned, and failure to co-operate may not work in their favour, the Parole Board must release them if it is decided they are no longer a risk to the public but he insisted the circumstances would be taken into account “very carefully” and will “add weight to our decision making.”