Freed pris­on­ers mur­der­ing one per­son a week

Daily Express - - NEWS - By Tom White­head Home Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

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.”

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