Monday, July 06, 2009

Crime offenders 'remain at large'!

Prison wardens
Hundreds of offenders who should be in prison remain at large

Nearly 1,000 offenders who should have been sent back to prison are still at large, according to Justice Secretary Jack Straw.

They include 19 convicted murderers who have not been returned to custody.

Also free are rapists and people convicted of manslaughter who were on licence from jails in England and Wales between January 1999 and March 2009.

The Conservatives said the figures were "shocking" and accused the government of putting the public at risk.

A total of 935 offenders whose licences had been revoked were not returned to jail as they should have been.

As well as the convicted murderers, those at large include two people convicted of manslaughter and 26 others convicted of sexual offences, including 12 for rape or attempted rape.

A further 19 offenders whose licences had been revoked between 1984 and 1999 were also not sent back to prison - though procedures were different in this period, said BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.

Mr Straw said the recall system was working well.

"Ten times more offenders are being recalled to prison each year than before 1997 as a result of our tough new recall regime," he said.

"Only about 10,000 offenders were recalled in the 15 years between 1984 and 1999 - when our new measures were implemented - and the old system was cumbersome and court based. Since then, 92,000 offenders have been recalled.

"The recall system works well. Of those recalled between 1999 and June 2008, just 0.7% of offenders have not been apprehended.

"But we are far from complacent and recognise that the system has to be strengthened further, not least in respect of those serious offenders who remain at large."

A spokeswoman for the Conservatives said: "These are clearly shocking figures and are a by-product of the Early Release Scheme and the enormous pressure on our probation services."

The information is being published following an audit of the work of police, probation areas and the United Kingdom Border Agency.

It was carried out by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), which has responsibility for licence revocation policy.

As part of the audit, NOMS wrote to each police force and Probation Area in England and Wales with a list for each area of all offenders who have been recalled but have yet to be returned to custody.

They were asked to check the list and examine whether some offenders might be removed - because, for example, they had been returned to custody under a different name or had died.

They were also asked to renew their efforts efforts to return these individuals into custody.

Following the audit, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) wrote to all police forces in England and Wales, asking them to take priority action to arrest and return to custody all those offenders on the list who had previously been convicted of sexual or violent offences.




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