6 Sep 2012
Alex Salmond today refused to take action to stop some of Scotland’s most violent criminals being released early from prison and back on to the country’s streets.
The First Minister was challenged to end the scandalous practice of automatic early release, where convicted offenders can be let out after serving just half their sentence.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson revealed during First Minister’s Questions that since the SNP came to power five years ago, 161 rapists and 277 killers are among thousands of dangerous criminals being released early.
The SNP made manifesto promises in both 2007 and 2011 to end automatic early release, yet the pledge was left out of the forthcoming Victims Bill.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:
“Alex Salmond today displayed nothing but complacency towards the anguish felt by victims and their families.
“He made it clear justice is little more than an afterthought for the SNP.
“Let’s be clear that under this system the most violent people in our society are freed early without question, regardless of how they have behaved in jail.
“Ending automatic early release was part of two SNP election manifestos, yet the First Minister has sat on his hands as dangerous criminals have been let out early on to Scotland’s streets.
“Instead, he concentrates on his obsession with breaking up Britain, while doing nothing to ensure the most dangerous people in our society serve the sentences the public expect.”
Notes to Editors
A quality of life in Scotland report released last week revealed almost a third of women were afraid to walk the streets alone at night:
Below are some specific examples of serious criminals being released early under the scheme:
Grzegorz Budach dragged a women into bushes in Dundee last year. In August, he was sentenced to three and a half years for attempted rape weeks ago at the High Court in Edinburgh, but under the current rules will be released after just over 2 years.
Darren McIntosh – In 2009, he was sentenced to 4 years for a sexual assault on an eight year old boy, but was released in September 2011, despite being branded a “high risk” to children.
Christopher Callan – Sentenced for 8 years after brutally stabbing his ex-girlfriend to death in the back in 2007. In September 2011, after serving less than half of this sentence, he was released on a tag. He even boasted about his freedom on Facebook.
Alexander Ness – Killed his 11 week old son in 2001 and was sentenced to 11 years. But in June 2009, he was let out of jail almost 4 years early. This is even more shocking because he killed tiny Caleb, after being freed early from a 5 year sentence for violence and drug dealing.
The policy of ending automatic early release is supported by the general public. A YouGov poll commissioned by the Scottish Conservatives asked the following question:
“Currently offenders sentenced to a term of less than 4 years are automatically released after serving half of their sentence. Prisoners serving longer sentences are released at either the half-way point in their sentence or after two thirds of their sentence.”
• 2% said prisoners should be automatically released part of the way through their sentence as at present.
• 33% said prisoners should only be released part of the way through their sentence on the basis of good behaviour.
• 62% said prisoners should not be released part of the way through their sentence at all.
• 3% said they didn’t know.
This means 95% of the current population is against the current rules on automatic early release.
[Sample Size: 1183 Scottish Adults. Fieldwork carried out in August 2009]
Lord Ross described automatic early release as “a charade”: