30 January 2007

MSP Calls For Better Supervision Of Serious Criminals - Press & Journal

by Tim Pauling, Press & Journal

A Call for better supervision of serious criminals let out of prison early was issued last night following the revelation that five had committed murder in recent years.

Official figures show five offenders were convicted of murder in the last five years. One was jailed in 2001, two in 2003 and two in 2005.

The number of homicides by prisoners out on supervision were revealed in a parliamentary question by SNP deputy justice spokesman Stewart Stevenson. Mr Stevenson, MSP for Banff and Buchan, said one murder was one to many.

"Although these figures are comparatively small there is a suggestion they may be rising," he said. "The important thing is to ensure that our supervision of people on licence and let out of jail early is up to the mark. We don't have enough criminal justice social workers and must be doing more to recruit them, put them in place and ensure that all supervision orders of whatever character are properly resourced." The number of murders committed by offenders on licence was revealed by Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson who said a new system of individual assessment is being put in place. All the offenders in question were released subject to the provisions of the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Act 1993, and had been sentenced to four years or more.

"Offenders sentenced to terms of four years or more are eligible to be released on parole licence at the direction of the Parole Board after serving one half of their sentence and will be released on licence at the two-thirds stage of sentence," she said.

"The Custodial Sentences and Weapons (Scotland) Bill, currently before parliament, proposes to end the current system of unconditional early release and replace it with a system based on an individual assessment of risk. There will be no change to the current law covering the treatment of life sentence prisoners."

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