Violent criminals released in Scotland ‘by mistake’ as pressure piles on prison service

Posted: 15th February 2023

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has been blasted after it was revealed that nine criminals had been released back into the public due to errors made by officials over the last five years.

These offenders included two who were convicted of violent offences and could be seen as a threat to the wider community before being caught by police officers.

And it has led to claims the SPS has “serious questions” to answer about how it managed to let potentially dangerous criminals roam free due to errors.

READ MORE: Police officer slams soft-touch sentencing of thug who nearly beat him to death

In new figures, seen by the Scottish Daily Express, the SPS confirmed that nine criminals had been let out by accident, with the longest one was on the run for being almost three months (81 days).

The years with the most escapees was 2018-19 and 2022-23 with three each. Surprisingly, during the height of the Covid pandemic (2020-21) no offenders were wrongly let out of prison.

It has led to calls for the SNP Government to help the SPS ensure that they do not release prisoners by accident into the community, especially ones with convictions for violence.

Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene told the Scottish Daily Express: “The SNP government have previously made horrendous blunders when assessing dangerous prisoners which potentially put the public at risk.

“Now we discover violent criminals have also been released back into our communities which is deeply alarming. It is nothing short of a miracle that these criminals were caught and that they didn’t cause any harm to the public.

“Serious questions must be answered as to how this was not just a one-off and what robust measures are in place to avoid it ever occurring again.”

In terms of prisoners released, in 2018-19 three were let go accidentally, one from Barlinnie, Perth and Low Moss. The Barlinnie offender was untried and at large for five days.

Meanwhile, a Perth convict was jailed for road traffic offences and managed more than a month of freedom (39 days). The Low Moss prisoner was convicted of theft and assault and was released for 27 days. The mistake revealed for each one was “error on warrant calculation.”

In 2019/20, offenders from Barlinnie and Polmont were let out accidentally, with the former meant to be in prison for more than six years due to a “serious violent offence.” He was tracked down eight days later after his recall papers were not actioned in the first place.

A convict from Low Moss was allowed out of prison and was on the lamb for 81 days in 2020/21 before he was sent back to prison due to a human error.

And in 2021/22, three prisoners, two from Edinburgh and one from Perth, were let out early due to “human error” before being put back into jail.

An SPS Spokesman said: “Every year, approximately 30,000 warrants are processed and 10,000 convicted individuals are released from custody. Whilst we are never complacent, the statistics show that these errors represent a very small proportion.

When a release in error occurs, we work closely with Police Scotland to ensure that the individual is located and returned to custody. All liberations made in error are reviewed internally.”

Source: Scottish Daily Express

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