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Four prison guards suspended over attack claims

FOUR prison officers have been suspended following an allegation an inmate was struck by a guard, it has emerged.

The alleged assault took place at Polmont Young Offenders Institution in Stirlingshire earlier this month.

Two prison officers have been charged and are due to appear in court next month, police said today.

Four officers were suspended earlier this month, the Scottish Prison Service confirmed.

A Central Scotland Police spokeswoman said: "Two men are due to appear in court on July 16 in connection with an assault.

"The incident took place on June 7. A 45-year-old man was charged on June 28 and a 42-year-old man was charged on June 20."

The Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: "We can confirm four prison staff have been suspended. It was reported to police and investigations are continuing."


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PM: 'Justice system is not working'

- Search: Cameron penal reforms

PM: 'Justice system is not working'
PM: 'Justice system is not working'

Britain's criminal justice system is not working and is in need of urgent reform, David Cameron has admitted.

The Prime Minister was speaking as it was disclosed that Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke is "sympathetic" to proposals for a shake-up of murder laws that could see some murderers serve less time in prison.

Justice Minister Lord McNally told peers at House of Lords question time on Monday that the Government was "mindful" of the recommendations of a 2006 Law Commission report which suggested a system of first and second degree murder.

"This is one of the issues that the Government will be looking at in its review of sentencing policy in general," Lord McNally said.

Mr Cameron told the Daily Mail that 10% of sentences could be affected by the review ordered by Mr Clarke.

He said sentences of one or two months were "pretty meaningless" and the black hole in public finances meant Britain could no longer afford to jail offenders for short periods only to see them reoffend.

"The truth is you have to have some short sentences because they are absolutely necessary, but it (is) also true that sending someone to prison for a period of one month or two months is pretty meaningless in terms of actually being able to reform them."

Instead the Prime Minister will consider proposals for local referendums to choose community punishments. "All ideas of making people feel they have more power and control over government and their lives and the criminal justice system, those are all things we can look at," Mr Cameron said.

He continued: "We have to face the fact that we have a criminal justice system that isn't working at the moment. We're banging people up at vast expense, half of them are on drugs, over 10% aren't meant to be here at all because they're foreigners, and the reoffending rate is dreadful.

"We also have to face the fact that the Government has been left an appalling legacy of no money. So we have to be reformers. Now that doesn't mean being soft, it means making sure that punishment and rehabilitation go together."

Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July 2010, 09:01 GMT
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At last, a judge who believes that prison DOES work... as he jails a prolific drug addict thief

By Andy Dolan
Last updated at 12:49 AM on 17th July 2010

Judge Michael Dudley

Judge Michael Dudley's actions will be interpreted as thinly veiled criticism of Government plans to consider scrapping short prison sentences

A senior judge has hit out at Government plans to consider scrapping short prison sentences as he jailed a prolific thief for a year.

Judge Michael Dudley told drug addict Paul Summers he was a 'prime example' of somebody who needed to be sent to jail after hearing how the thief had been charged and bailed for stealing from a supermarket, only to repeat the offence at four other stores.

The judge's comments will be interpreted as a thinly veiled criticism of Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, who last month launched a review of short sentences after declaring the prison population was too high.

Mr Clarke also said he wanted to cut reoffending by placing a greater emphasis on rehabilitation in an overhaul of the 'prison works' policy.

Prime Minister David Cameron this week backed Mr Clarke, saying that some short sentences are 'pretty meaningless' in terms of reforming offenders.

Judge Dudley, who sits in Wolverhampton, jailed Summers after the 37-year-old's defence lawyer admitted he was unlikely to adhere to a community sentence.

The judge told Summers: 'Although there is talk at the moment about abolishing short sentences, you are a prime example of why we can't do it.

'You keep going out - again and again - stealing from shops and stores in the area.'

The court heard Summers, from Lye, Worcestershire, was caught leaving a Tesco store in Cradley Heath, West Midlands, in January with a flatscreen TV, a box of nappies and an Easter egg.

He was charged and bailed, but a week later was caught trying to steal six bottles of perfume from an Asda supermarket.

The following month he stole aftershave from Boots and was bailed again, only to be caught trying to take whisky, crisps and nappies from Morrisons supermarket the following month.

His crime spree ended on April 1 when he was spotted on CCTV trying to steal £349 worth of clothes from BHS in the Merry Hill shopping mall near Dudley.

Summers admitted five thefts and the breach of a two-year Asbo which barred him from going to the shopping centre.

He was jailed at Wolverhampton Crown Court last week, when the judge spoke out.

Top Tory headline

From the Mail, June 14

Judge Dudley, 63, does not have a history of outspokenness, but sources at the court said he was well respected and 'did not suffer fools'.

One court official added: 'You won't see him splashed all over the front of the newspapers for putting his foot in it, but he certainly knows a baddie when he sees one.'

Judge Dudley refused to elaborate on his comments when contacted by the Daily Mail yesterday.

Earlier this week, Mr Clarke further angered the Tory Right by declaring that locking up more criminals has done little to reduce crime rates.

In a Mansion House speech to judges, he suggested that falling crime rates were more likely to be due to greater prosperity than tougher punishments.

In an interview yesterday, he insisted he was still in favour of most short-term sentences, adding: 'Prison is still the best punishment for serious criminal offenders... [but] trying to make sure that when we lock them up it's the last time - that strikes me as an important part in protecting the public.'

The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the judge's remarks.



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1295410/At-judge-believes-prison-DOES-work.html#ixzz0tyMHZZDb


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Record number of 'lifers' released

- Search: Life prisoners free

A record number of prisoners sentenced to life are now free to walk the streets, records show
A record number of prisoners sentenced to life are now free to walk the streets, records show

A record number of prisoners sentenced to life are now free to walk the streets, official records have shown.

The number of "lifers" released into the community under supervision has reached 1,797, Parole Board statistics revealed.

Despite a drop in numbers last year, the figures revealed an overall increase of 33% since 2004/05.

The figures come days after the release of Learco Chindamo, 29, the killer of London headteacher Philip Lawrence.

The Parole Board said it considered 24,204 cases during the year, compared with 28,596 in 2008/09, a fall of 15% due to fewer determinate sentences and recall cases being referred.

Sir David Latham, the Parole Board chairman, said the organisation was now facing a "challenging" year.

He said: "During the past year we have faced the challenge of a continuing rise in our oral hearings case-load along with a critical shortage of members, and in particular judicial members, to hear those cases.

"The coming year also promises to be a challenging one as we work to reduce the backlog of outstanding oral hearings cases and at the same time manage changes that may result from the public consultation by ministers on our future status.

"No matter where our future landing place lies, the Board will continue to focus on maintaining the highest standards of case management and decision making as part of our core mission of working with others to protect the public."

The board is an independent body which assesses prisoners to decide whether they can safely be released into the community.

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Stop this prison-bashing. Sometimes community sentences don't work

It's too simplistic to criticise the rise in prisoner numbers without looking at crime figures

Anne Owers, the former chief inspector of prisons, damns the indeterminate sentence for public protection as "a worked example of how not to legislate" (The prison system is too big to fail, and too big to succeed, 14 July). She does not clarify that this sentence only applies to violent or sexual offenders on a three-strikes-and-you're-out basis: they would only get it after a third such offence.

In my daily interactions with prisoners I know that this is one sentence that is jolting them out of seeing prison as an occupational hazard. Yes, "there are 6,000 of these prisoners and only 130 have ever been released". However, these sentences began five years ago and alternative sentences would have been five to 10 years long.

Owers says that "there have also been missed opportunities to invest properly in alternatives to prison". For someone whose own inspectorate (costing £27,000 per prison) received 60% more money in the last seven years, this is a surprising claim. Probation – the main alternative to prison – received a 70% real increase between 1997 and 2007. Working in this field, I saw that the money created new jobs and capacity to deliver more. But results – common to all the public sector – reflected diseconomies of scope rather than economies of scale. Ministers targeted timeliness, not productivity or output. While a waiting-list target for cancer patients might make some sense, timeliness elsewhere is like Tesco opening the shutters at 8am and forgetting if goods are there.

Owers protests against the fashionable "my prison system is bigger than yours" argument. But simplistically criticising the doubling of the prison population since the early 1990s assumes crime numbers have stayed the same or are similar to western European countries, which have smaller prison populations. And will community sentences be better than short prison sentences? The problem is that the latter are typically awarded if someone has not responded to repeat awards of the former!

As the article says, reducing reoffending is paramount. But understanding that most criminals are men aged 16 to 35 is crucial. Having worked in prisoner rehabilitation I know that most of them calculate that crime is worth the risk of a new sentence. Chances of changing minds are greater when their "career" has just begun and if the sentence – community or prison – is long.

Fuelling these criminals is testosterone – reflected in aggression and a sense of entitlement. Are the police watching schools, clubs, pubs and nightclubs where these men get together?

We cannot fix our broken society piecemeal. About 5 million people live in overlapping worlds of crime, poverty, unemployment, no qualifications, poor housing and health, addictions of alcohol and drugs, and broken families. The state gives them cash welfare benefits and non-cash health and schooling. Let us have a charity responsible for each deprived neighbourhood, giving it control over all benefit payments while it runs a team that has a doctor, a teacher and every other specialist needed to give comprehensive support. Real regeneration has to move beyond prison-bashing.

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22 killers at large despite recall

- Search: killers recall prison

More than 22 killers remain at large despite being recalled to prison, the Ministry of Justice said
More than 22 killers remain at large despite being recalled to prison, the Ministry of Justice said

More than 20 killers remain at large despite being recalled to prison, the Ministry of Justice has said.

Eighteen murderers and four killers convicted of manslaughter are among almost 1,000 prisoners who have had their licences revoked and been recalled to prison, but have not returned.

A total of 12 rapists or attempted rapists are among more than 30 sex offenders who remain at large, the figures showed.

Some have been on the run since the 1980s, while others were recalled in March this year.

Prisoners serving sentences of at least 12 months are released, in most cases automatically, at the halfway point of their sentence under licensed supervision to the Probation Service.

A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokesman said: "The Government is committed to public protection and will do everything necessary in order to ensure this happens. Over the last 10 years, in over 99% of cases where an offender has been recalled, the individual has successfully been returned to custody."

A total of 106,969 offenders in England and Wales had their licences revoked and were recalled to prison between April 1999 and March this year because they either returned to crime or breached the conditions of their licence, the MoJ figures showed.

In all, 914 had not been returned to custody by July 13, including some who were recalled before April 1999.

Of these, 145 were convicted of violent offences against the person while a further 32 were sex offenders. The others included 112 burglars and 106 robbers.

Most of these offenders (379) were being managed by the local criminal justice board in London, while 91 were in the West Midlands, 39 in Greater Manchester and 30 in Merseyside.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/04/prisoner-going-straight-drugs-crime

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Sir Paul Stephenson, Metropolitan police commissioner: 'Prison works.' Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA

The Metropolitan police commissioner, Paul Stephenson, has waded into the debate about Britain's prison population by opposing government proposals to lock up fewer criminals.

Stephenson also expressed his support for handing out short-term prison sentences for offences such as burglary, contradicting the justice secretary Kenneth Clarke's recent comments that it was "virtually impossible" to rehabilitate offenders on short-term sentences.

The government has launched a review of sentencing policy, with Clarke indicating that he favours a greater emphasis on community sentences rather than putting more criminals behind bars.

Asked if he agreed that fewer people should go to prison, Stephenson told radio station LBC 97.3: "Don't forget what my mission in life is: save life, prevent crime. I'm rather fond of villains going to prison. I rather like it.

"I've said on many occasions, I think I've said it on this show before, that before a burglar burgles a house, he should anticipate a period of imprisonment if and when he's caught.

"I'm a fan of that and I also think that victims of serious crime would actually think that prison works."

Burglary can carry sentences of less than a year.

In comments that provoked discomfort on the Tory right, Clarke said: "Banging up more and more people for longer without actively seeking to change them is what you would expect of Victorian England."

He called for a "rehabilitation revolution", with sentencing policy focused on targeting the causes of reoffending.

Stephenson said there was a need for a "balance between retribution and rehabilitation" in the justice system. "I believe in both," he said.

Stephenson's predecessor as Met commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, is taking part in an inquiry examining short-term prison sentences, set up by Make Justice Work, which hopes to find workable alternatives to locking people up.

Clarke's comments directly signalled the abandonment of the "prison works" orthodoxy, launched by the former home secretary, Michael Howard. The justice secretary faces mounting pressure to halt Britain's £4bn prison-building programme, the largest in Europe. Howard said he was "not convinced" by Clarke's position and that "serious and persistent criminals need to be put in prison".

The Tory MP Philip Davies said many Conservative supporters would be disappointed by the justice secretary's plans.

"Disappointed because I think lots of them will feel that it's the wrong thing to do but also disappointed because many of them voted for the Conservative party at the last election on the basis that we would send more people to prison, not fewer."

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Offenders do compulsory unpaid service cleaning graffiti. Incidents have been increasing of violence and abuse both by offenders and against them. Photograph: Richard Gardner/Rex Features

Supervisors of offenders on unpaid work schemes are increasingly being subjected to threats, and verbal and physical abuse, with many complaining of feeling intimidated and afraid, according to a new survey.

Most of the threats are made by the offenders, but in London there have been three shootings, allegedly by rival gang members, targeting those doing unpaid work who are not from their area. The most serious case was last month in Hackney, when a 19-year-old offender was left in a critical condition after being shot five times when leaving a placement, the survey by the probation officers' union, Napo, reports. In another incident in east London, an offender was shot and injured in the shoulder.

The report details hundreds of incidents in London, Merseyside and Hertfordshire over recent months. In Hertfordshire, one offender told a male supervisor he was going to kill him and rape his four-year-old-daughter. Another slashed the car tyres of a female supervisor and told her: "I know here you live and I'm going to get you and your family."

At least two supervisors have had to lock themselves in a vehicle to escape physical violence and one member of staff was left cut and bleeding after a stone was thrown at him by an offender.

The situation has become so serious that a protection system has been set up for supervisors in the south-west of England.

Last year, 55,000 offenders were sentenced to unpaid work in the community, two-thirds of them in group work placements. Napo says placements are increasingly staffed by sessional workers who are paid at an hourly rate – on average £8.50 an hour.

Staff have told Napo that the present ratio of up to a dozen offenders to one supervisor is unsafe; it was previously six to one.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of Napo, said: "Reports of abuse and threats are now occurring every working day. It is of great concern that there have now been shootings. There are clear implications for the health and safety of staff, offenders and the public. It is quite scandalous that staff are paid £8.50 an hour to be systematically abused."

Fletcher said that while unpaid work had an important role in sentencing, it needed to be properly run. "There is a need for an urgent review of the staffing and training of unpaid work. A combination of a workforce who do not want to be there and staff who are not trained to motivate spells major problems for the future."

The survey records supervisors as saying they were reluctant to report abuse because it would be tantamount to saying they were unable to do their job properly, therefore they would not be offered more work.

Concerns over the safety of offenders and staff have led to probation services in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool no longer sending gang members who have been given unpaid work to do placements outside the individual's own postcode area.

Police have expressed concern that risk assessments are not carried out before setting placements for offenders. A police source said: "There are a lot of risk assessments in everything we do and one of the biggest issues I have seen is that people are not really assessing risk in community service work."

If people from one area were put into another, added the source, "then you can get all sorts of violence ensuing – obviously there can be a danger to the public".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/aug/31/offenders-unpaid-work-attack-supervisors
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Ken Clarke's enthusiasm for cuts in the justice system comes at a high price

The lord chancellor should be sticking up for his department. Our courts lie at the very heart of our democracy

Why should anybody be surprised at the £2bn cut that officials at the Ministry of Justice have been told to expect in their annual budget of £9bn? It is less than 25% — the lower of the two figures that the Treasury asked spending departments to plan for.

"It will also mean there will have to be less of us," said the department's director-general of finance. Ann Beasley presumably meant "fewer" — unless she is also doing away with the departmental chocolate cake that used to appear at press briefings.

We can hardly say we weren't warned. In June, the ministry announced plans to close more than 150 of the 530 courts in England and Wales. In a major speech the following week, Ken Clarke made it clear that the prison population was too high — although the justice secretary refused to accept the inevitability of cuts.

The impact on legal aid is already plain to see. Experienced child-care lawyers have been told their contracts will not be renewed. Instead, publicly funded family work is being allocated to law firms charging knock-down prices, regardless of whether then can cope. As the senior family judge said last month: "There is a grave danger that the system will simply implode."

But Clarke's enthusiasm for cuts makes him look more like the chancellor of the exchequer he once was than the lord chancellor he is now. Sure, getting in ahead of other departments will give him a seat in the cabinet's "star chamber" — the body that is to resolve disputes about departmental cuts. But shouldn't he be sticking up for his department rather than acquiescing in the Treasury's demands?

Many of the economies we can expect will be false ones. Cutting legal aid will simply lead to more litigants in person. Cases will take longer and court costs will rise. Vulnerable children will be at greater risk. There will be more miscarriages of justice, costing huge sums to investigate and put right.

And savings in one department may generate higher costs for others. As the government recognises, abolishing legal aid for personal injury cases led to higher fees for claimants' lawyers that have to be paid by publicly funded defendants such as the NHS and local authorities.

The main justification for combining courts and punishment into a ministry of justice was that the constituent parts of the criminal justice system are interdependent. If the police arrest fewer people and the CPS prosecutes fewer of those arrested, we can get by with fewer police, prosecutors, courts, defence lawyers, prisons and probation officers.

But at what price? Yes, we can adopt the "intelligent sentencing" favoured by Clarke; but if that means fewer prison places then he will have to spend more on community punishments.

At its heart, justice is a function of the state. It is not like other public services which can be handed over to the private sector. Individuals and companies can hire their own security guards, though only the state can establish police forces with full powers of investigation and arrest. Ministers can pay private companies to build and even run prisons, though only the state can take away a person's liberty. Litigants can resort to mediation or arbitration to settle their disputes, but only the state can run courts of law.

The courts, indeed, are one of the few institutions in society whose reputation has survived largely intact. Of course, some judges make injudicious remarks from the bench while others pass sentences that are too high or too low. But these errors can be corrected.

And that is why people are right to be concerned by cuts in justice. If the courts cease to command public confidence, what's left? Ministers? Only noticed when they resign. Parliament? Not recovered from the expenses scandal. The church? The monarchy? The press?

Sure, there will have to be job losses in justice as in every other public service. But Clarke will cut the core functions of criminal justice at his peril. Beyond that, anarchy reigns.

Joshua Rozenberg is a freelance legal writer, commentator and broadcaster

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11254308

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POLICE CUTS 'CRIMINALS' CHRISTMAS'

ABOVE: Hampshire Constabulary is to axe 1,400 jobs, including hundreds of police officers
10th September 2010

The Government must wake up to the reality of a "Christmas for criminals" as up to 40,000 police officers could be axed if 25% funding cuts go ahead, the Police Federation has said.


The body, which represents officers in England and Wales, said forces would be left "devastated" and specialist departments - including those involved with child protection and domestic violence - would "disappear" as resources were diverted to calls needing emergency responses.

Paul McKeever, the federation's chairman, warned that the cuts, coupled with Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke's desire to see more offenders dealt with in the community rather than with short-term prison sentences, would be a "volatile mix".

"Our officers are telling us the most vulnerable in society will be hit the hardest", he said.

"Those who can protect themselves, will go and protect themselves. Those who can't protect themselves will be at greater risk of experiencing anti-social behaviour, violent crime and crime generally. We will be delivering a lot less, in fact we'll be stopping delivering in some areas altogether."

There were already plans for the domestic violence unit of the Northamptonshire force to be absorbed into the major crime unit, effectively depriving the force of those specialist services, he said.

The warning was made as Hampshire Constabulary announced it would axe 1,400 posts, including hundreds of police officers, as it cuts about a fifth of its workforce in a bid to make £70 million worth of savings over the next four years.

One national estimate found 60,000 frontline and civilian jobs in the police service would be at risk if the cuts went ahead at 25%.

Mr McKeever said he was "surprised" that the police were not in the lower bracket of cuts, but instead had been told to prepare for reductions of 25% or more.

He blamed "bad advice" from the Home Office and think-tanks which suggested that big enough savings could be made through efficiencies to justify a 25% cut.

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Criminal justice in Scotland

There are two types of criminal procedure in Scotland: ‘solemn’ and ‘summary’.

Solemn cases

Solemn procedures are for the most serious cases, involving a trial before a judge or sheriff, and with a jury. A Scottish jury is made up of 15 people and they can decide on a verdict when eight or more of them agree.

Three verdicts are available to them: 'guilty', 'not guilty', or 'not proven'. A not proven verdict means that the jury has decided that guilt cannot be proven.

Summary cases

Summary procedures are used for less serious offences. They involve a trial by a sheriff without a jury, or a magistrate who may hear the case with two other magistrates.

For more information on Scotland's courts and justice system, follow the link below.

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Justice

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http://news.stv.tv/scotland/200355-retiring-barlinnie-governor-we-send-too-many-to-jail/


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A total of 196 convicted violent or sex offenders have been charged with a further offence of murder, rape or other serious crime while under the supervision of the probation service, according to Ministry of Justice figures published today.

The figure includes 14 offenders ranked as medium or high risk who have been charged with a murder or rape after leaving prison in the past year.

The official figures also show that the number of registered sex offenders in England and Wales rose by more than 2,500 in 2009/10 to 34,939.

A total of 1,116 registered sex and violent offenders were returned to prison for breaching the terms of their release licences – 300 fewer than the previous year. Another 89 were sent back to prison for breaching the terms of a sex offences prevention order.

The annual figures appear to be a further blow to public confidence in the probation service in a week when the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, has said he hopes an element of "payment by results" can be brought in as a way of finding more effective rehabilitative sentences.

The debate over the quality of supervision by the probation and police services of released prisoners has been dominated by cases such as that of Daniel Sonnex, who tortured and murdered two French research students , Laurent Bonomo and Gabriel Ferez, in London when he should have been recalled to prison.

Ministry of justice officials point out that the figure of 196 convicted violent or sexual offenders who have been charged with further offences has been inflated this year by including level one offenders – the lowest level – on the sex offenders register for the first time.

There were 31 level two offenders – the intermediate level – convicted of further offences and three level three offenders – the highest level, known as the "critical few", which involves the most intensive forms of supervision on release from prison, including specialised accommodation.

The 34 who committed further serious offences this year compares with 48 last year, but some changes in counting methods are involved in those figures.

The Ministry of Justice said that a serious case review was held for 14 of the level two and level three offenders who went on to commit another serious offence. The figures did not include level 1 offenders who triggered a serious case review.

Serious case reviews, triggered when the further offence involves a murder or rape, are carried out under the multi-agency public protection arrangements, known as Mappas, which bring together the police, probation, and prison services.

The Ministry of Justice figures show that 48,338 violent and sexual offenders were eligible for supervision under the Mappa arrangements on 31 March this year. This figure includes 34,939 sex offenders. The remainder were violent or other dangerous offenders assessed to pose a risk of harm to the public.

Crispin Blunt, the prisons and probation minister, said the probation service and the police delivered a robust system that effectively monitored potentially unpredictable and dangerous behaviour by Mappa offenders.

"The risk of further offences can never be eliminated entirely which is why Mappa is a critical tool in protecting the public and reducing serious reoffending," he said. "The number of individuals who reoffend seriously has historically been a very small percentage of those offenders managed under Mappa."

Paul West, the public protection spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: "The staged roll-out of the child sex offender disclosure scheme has significantly enhanced our ability to protect families from potential harm and has provided another critical layer that empowers parents, carers and guardians to take active steps to protect their children.

"While the reality is that the risks posed by some offenders can never be completely eliminated, we will continue to do all in our power to keep them to a minimum."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/criminal-justice

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