PM says no sex offenders part of early prison release scheme - but prisoner 'risk to children' released

May 15, 2024

Rishi Sunak has claimed nobody convicted of a serious violent offence - such as a sex offence - has been let out of prison early to relieve pressure despite a report saying a criminal deemed "a risk to children" has been released.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Sunak was accused by Sir Keir Starmer of being weak on crime as the Labour leader quoted a report released this week from Lewes Prison which found a high-risk prisoner had his release date brought forward under the scheme.

But the prime minister said: "As I've said, no one should be put on this scheme if they are a threat to the country.

"And let me be crystal clear, it does not apply and it makes absolutely it does not apply to anyone serving a life sentence.

"Anyone convicted of a serious violent offence, anyone convicted of terrorism, anyone convicted of a sex offence, and crucially, in contrast to the system that Labour had put in place, governors and the prison service have an absolute lock so that no one is put on this scheme who shouldn't be."

The End of Custody Supervised Licence (ECSL) scheme allows prisoners to be released early to free up prison space. Those guilty of serious offences are not eligible for early release.

The report on East Sussex's Lewes prison, by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: "In one case, a high-risk prisoner had his release date brought forward under the ECSL scheme, despite having a history of stalking, domestic abuse and being subject to a restraining order.

"He was a risk to children and subject to an exclusion zone that included the local authority responsible for trying to house him."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "This government is categorical that the most dangerous offenders should stay behind bars for longer, which is why new laws will keep rapists locked up for every day of their prison sentence and ensure life means life for the most horrific murderers.

"We continue to see pressure on our prisons following the impact of the pandemic and barristers' strike which is why we have initiated a previously used measure to securely transfer prisoners between courts and custody and ensure there is always a custody cell available should they be remanded."

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