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Probation hostel manager's pledge to worried villagers

Probation hostel manager's pledge to worried villagers

Francis Batt

Probation hostel manager's pledge to worried villagers
Simon Simpson outside Manor Lodge

The manager of a hostel housing convicted criminals on license from prison has pledged to be open and honest with anxious neighbouring villagers.

Manor Lodge approved premises has been based in Straight Road, Old Windsor, since 1967. But the recent arrest of three of its residents - recalled to prison after being charged with burglaries in the village - has reawakened concerns among its neighbours.

Thames Valley Probation has expressed regret about what happened. This week the area manager responsible for Manor Lodge, Simon Simpson, promised a policy of openness with villagers. He has even signed up to the 'We Love Old Windsor' Facebook page.

He said: "In the past we did tend to keep a low profile. But an incident at Old Windsor Carnival two years ago acted as a sort of epiphany that led to a rethink."

The incident involved a well-meaning resident at Manor Lodge who innocently gave a child £1 to go on a ride, leading to widespread rumours that a convicted paedophile was on the prowl.

Simon said: "The man had meant well and was not a sex offender, otherwise he would not have been allowed to attend a carnival. So it was right to be open with people and explain the facts and we continue that policy."

The centre houses male residents ranging in age from teenage to 70 plus, mostly on license from prison. There are 24 rooms and residents are carefully monitored. They have a curfew between 11pm and 6am but can have a range of extra restrictions imposed on them related to their offences.

They are self-catering and do their own laundry, attending cooking and literacy classes if needed as well as sessions to help their future employment prospects.

Simon admitted that since 2006 new government policies had made managers of approved premises more 'risk averse' than they used to be.

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