AFTER the Government scrapped plans to house sex offenders at Thorn Cross prison, outraged residents and concerned politicians were able to breathe a sigh of relief.

But while the news was marked with elation and celebration, there are still many unanswered about the future of the minimum-security prison in Appleton Thorn.

Could sex offenders still be housed at HMP Thorn Cross in the future?

Many residents have called for a life-long commitment from the Government that convicted sex offenders will never be able to serve the remainder of their custodial sentences at the open prison.

Dad-of-four Simon Puleston, who is one of the closest neighbours to the prison, said: “This is only the start – a u-turn on a decision is only as good as a ‘not now’.

“We need assurances from Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and, if possible enshrined in law, that never again will Thorn Cross – or any other establishment near a school, nurseries and large residential areas – be considered a suitable establishment to house sex offenders.”

Cllr Sharon Harris, chairman of Appleton Thorn Parish Council, has also written to the MoJ to ask for clarity for residents.

She said: “The original decision caused great concern and upset for many reasons, not least of which is the prison’s very close proximity to a very successful and much-loved primary school.

“Indeed, I am aware that some parents were considering removing their children from the school and I hope that in view of the reversal of this decision, they too will reconsider.

“There were also other negative effects of the original decision as I am also aware that some residents in Appleton Thorn lost house sales.

“However, I would now ask that in order to give the community peace of mind for the future, you to confirm in writing that HMP Thorn will NEVER house sex offenders.”

While the Ministry of Justice has made a commitment that this will not happen under the current Government, the same promise cannot be made if a different party comes into power, the Warrington Guardian understands.

This decision lies in the hands of those who are leading the country in the years to come.

But what about enshrining this commitment in law?

While an Act of Parliament could prohibit sex offenders from serving time at Thorn Cross prison, it would always be possible to amend the law in the future.

For example, it recently took six weeks change the law on cannabis, which has been partially legalised for medicinal purposes.

An act can also be repealed so that its provisions no longer apply.