While the proportion of prisoners released in error is very small, being about one twentieth of 1 per cent., the Prison Service is making every effort to reduce the number further. All releases in error must be reported immediately and are subject to formal investigation so that lessons can be learned. It is a mandatory requirement that prisons check the correctness of the calculation of a prisoner’s release date and entitlement to release on two separate occasions just prior to release. Prison governors have been reminded of the importance of these checks and the need to follow up any errors immediately.
The fact is that over the past two years the number of prisoners released early has increased by 45 per cent. Does the Minister agree that it is bad enough that the Government have an official early release programme, but worse still that so many criminals are being released early?
I do not really understand what the hon. Gentleman is talking about; his first question was about releases in error, but he is now talking about early release. All that I can say is that we look very carefully to make sure that people are not released in error, but that where they are, they are immediately brought back to custody, as almost all of them are. The figures were not even collected by his party when it was last in government, so at least we know what the situation is now.