Shock rise in mur­der­ers freed early

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Edi­tor

SOAR­ING num­bers of mur­der­ers and sex crim­i­nals are be­ing freed early, fu­elling fears vic­tims are be­ing failed by soft-touch jus­tice.

Pa­role for sex of­fend­ers after they have reached the half­way point of their sen­tence has more than dou­bled in a year.

But scores of crim­i­nals were re­called to prison after breach­ing their li­cence con­di­tions, the Pa­role Board for Scot­land (PBS) has re­vealed.

The fig­ures show mur­der­ers and sex of­fend­ers are be­ing let out of prison on pa­role at a rate of more than one a week.

Scot­tish Tory jus­tice spokesman Liam Kerr said: ‘There is a place for pa­role within our jus­tice sys­tem. But when it comes to the most se­ri­ous and dan­ger­ous of­fend­ers, the sen­tence handed down by a court should be the sen­tence served.’

He added that ‘al­low­ing dan­ger­ous peo­ple to walk free early is a risk to so­ci­ety’ and de­scribed it as a ‘huge in­sult to vic­tims of crime’.

The PBS an­nual report for 2016-17 shows 46 ‘lif­ers’ and ten se­ri­ous sex of­fend­ers were freed on pa­role. Lif­ers are gen­er­ally mur­der­ers, al­though very se­ri­ous rapes can lead to ‘dis­cre­tionary’ life sen­tences.

The sex of­fend­ers were guilty of crimes such as rape and at­tempted rape. In 2015-16, 44 lif­ers were freed and four sex of­fend­ers, mean­ing the to­tal of lif­ers and sex crim­i­nals paroled has risen about 17 per cent from 48 to 56.

Lif­ers have to serve a ‘pu­n­ish­ment part’ of their sen­tence set by a judge be­fore be­com­ing el­i­gi­ble for pa­role.

Crim­i­nals jailed for more than four years, in­clud­ing sex of­fend­ers, can ap­ply for pa­role at the half­way point of their sen­tences. The fig­ures for 2016-17 show the PBS con­sid­ered the cases of 35 lif­ers freed in pre­vi­ous years who ‘had al­legedly breached the con­di­tions of their li­cence or whose be­hav­iour in the com­mu­nity was giv­ing cause for con­cern’.

The PBS rec­om­mended 24 li­censees be re­called to cus­tody. Its report dis­closed 16 lif­ers were freed for the first time in 2016-17. Of those, one had spent only be­tween nine and ten years be­hind bars.

Pris­on­ers sen­tenced to more than four years be­fore 2016, when the rules changed, are au­to­mat­i­cally re­leased after the two-thirds point of their term – with no in­volve­ment by the PBS.

But it is no­ti­fied if any of those freed au­to­mat­i­cally have re­of­fended or breached li­cence con­di­tions.

There were 91 such no­ti­fi­ca­tions in 2016-17 and 75 of­fend­ers re­called. The PBS de­ter­mines if pris­on­ers who are no longer re­garded as a risk to pub­lic safety can serve the re­main­der of a sen­tence in the com­mu­nity, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of a so­cial worker.

It in­sists it only gives the goa­head to re­lease pris­on­ers where the level and na­ture of risk is deemed man­age­able.

Scot­tish Labour jus­tice spokesman Daniel John­son said: ‘Peo­ple need to have con­fi­dence in the pa­role sys­tem and, in­deed, how it in­ter­acts with sen­tenc­ing.’

A PBS spokesman said: ‘The board’s main aim is to en­sure that those pris­on­ers who are no longer re­garded as pre­sent­ing a risk to pub­lic safety may serve the re­main­der of their sen­tence in the com­mu­nity un­der the su­per­vi­sion of a so­cial worker.

‘Each case is con­sid­ered on its mer­its and the board only grants re­lease in cases where the level and na­ture of risk is deemed to be man­age­able.’

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said: ‘De­ci­sions on the re­lease of life pris­on­ers, where el­i­gi­ble for con­sid­er­a­tion, are a mat­ter for the Pa­role Board which is in­de­pen­dent of min­is­ters. Scot­land has a ro­bust of­fender man­age­ment frame­work.’

Com­ment – Page 14

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.