This was the awful story that hit the headlines just after Christmas this year, and I think nearly every news channel and paper had their say and published the story!
Prison service blunders have led to release in error of 505 prisoners since 2005, figures described by Tory MP Philip Davies as ‘disturbing’.
The guardian went with the headline
Dozens in custody freed by mistake in 2014-15
The statistics are relatively shocking, and they ran with the line ‘Prisoners in custody for murder and other violent offences are among hundreds who have been released by mistake over the past decade. Forty-eight suspected or convicted criminals were freed in England and Wales because of blunders in 2014-15, figures obtained by the Press Association reveal’.
In the past decade, 505 prisoners have been let out in error – a rate of just under one a week (lovely news to be waking up to this morning!).
Critics described the findings as disturbing (and rightly so), while the prison service have insisted that incidents are “very rare” and have been falling. Over 90,000 prisoners are released each year, so of the 900,000 released in the last 10 years, 505 were released in error.
That is quite a high amount really, and I am not sure how well they actually justify these errors. I know every person makes mistakes at work during their lifetime, that is inevitable, but some people have extremely important jobs, where everyone hopes the margin for error is considerably lower!
One example was in relation to Martynas Kupstys who was let out of HMP Lincoln while on remand for murder in August 2014. He waited for three hours at a nearby bus stop before he was found and returned to custody. However, Martynas Kupstys was jailed later after being convicted of the murder of Ivans Zdanovics, 24, who died in a house fire in January 2014.
In another incident, a prisoner was freed from HMP Hewell in Worcestershire in July last year after an apparent mixup involving another inmate with the same surname. He was brought back to prison a day later. Surely there has to be a system which works better that means surname mixups do not occur – surely people do more than check a surname before releasing someone! I know it isn’t a straight forward process releasing someone from prison, and takes weeks to get everything in place… so I am not sure how this happened!
I am not sure why but these stories really shocked me, which is unusual as I am not easily shocked or surprised when it comes to law/police/crime related matters.
I am going to keep an eye on this story as it unfolds.