Freed prisoners murdering one person a week
CRIMINALS who were released from prison under supervision committed 121 murders over two years, it was revealed yesterday.
The offenders, freed to walk the streets supposedly under the watch of probation officers, were convicted of more than 1,000 serious violent or sexual offences.
Shadow justice secretary Nick Herbert said: “This is a matter of huge concern. It underlines the need to look again at the arrangements for supervising offenders.”
Convicts allegedly under supervision were responsible for 103 rapes, 49 arson attacks and 44 manslaughters between April 2006 and this March.
Most had either been let out of prison early, or had been given community orders for other offences. Almost 400 suspected serious offenders are still awaiting trial.
The figures, from the Ministry of Justice, were published two days after it emerged that three murders were allegedly committed by inmates within days of being released early under the controversial scheme to free up prison places.
One has already been convicted and jailed for life, another killed himself while on remand and the third is awaiting trial.
In two of the cases, the fact the murders were committed by prisoners on early release came to light only this week, despite one of the killings taking place almost a year ago.
Liberal Democrat justice spokesman David Howarth said: “The probation service does an excellent and often thankless job in difficult circumstances.
“However, this Government’s obsession with criminalising people in the name of looking tough has left the service hugely overstretched.
“If its workload increases, funding cut and morale shattered by endless Whitehall tinkering, it is increasingly likely that people will slip through the net.”
Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, the probation officers’ union, said: “The number of offenders involved in further serious crimes is less than 0.5 per cent of the total under supervision. Obviously we would like to get that figure as low as we can but we are dealing with people with mental health problems, drug and alcohol addictions and further offences are inevitable.”
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “Any serious offence is of great concern.
“The Probation Service knows the impact crimes have on victims and their families and is constantly working towards having the best possible systems to supervise offenders.”