Domestic violence victims to be at risk if prisoners let loose two months early

Victims of home violence will probably be put in danger by the choice to launch prisoners as much as two months early, it has been warned.

Ministers have introduced the emergency measure because the nation runs out of spare jail cells. But there are considerations the probation service will be unable to deal with the rising variety of early releases.

The Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs, stated: “Plans to release prisoners on short sentences up to two months early could be dangerous for domestic abuse victims… Victims should not pay the price for prison overcrowding.

“There has been no transparent evaluation of the scheme’s impact on domestic abuse victims, nor the probation service’s ability to properly manage perpetrators.” She added: “I want to see a specific exemption of perpetrators of domestic abuse and stalking from this scheme.”

Amy Bowdrey, Policy and Public Affairs Officer at Refuge, stated it was “deeply concerned” by the announcement and echoed the decision for the exemption. “We know that there is a lack of understanding around domestic abuse within the criminal justice system, and that perpetrators are often given short custodial sentences that do not reflect the serious nature of their crimes,” she stated. “The Government has claimed that the safety of women and girls is a priority for them, but yet again we are seeing VAWG ignored and overlooked in policy announcements.”

Ministers snuck out the news late on Monday evening in a bid to avoid negative headlines. Burglars and shoplifters will be among those to benefit. Sex offenders, convicted terrorists, category A prisoners and all violent offenders serving four or more years are excluded.

According to MoJ figures, the prison population stood at 88,220 as of March 8. The operational capacity is a little over 89,000. Prisons charity, the Howard League, states that the prison estate should not hold more than 79,597 people.

Labour said the extension of the early release scheme from 18 days to up to 60 days “will cause shockwaves and deep concern across our country”. Speaking in the Commons, Shadow Justice Secretary Shabana Mahmood stated: “Let us be in little doubt, that is probably the most drastic type of early launch for prisoners that this nation has ever seen.” She questioned how the probation service will have the ability to address monitoring an inflow of early launched offenders when any further useful resource was “glaringly absent” from the Ministry of Justice’s announcement.

Pia Sinha, chief government of the Prison Reform Trust, additionally warned extra help was wanted to keep away from a “catastrophic impact” of elevated demand on the probation service. “Ministers must do all in their powers to ensure a prisons crisis does not morph into a probation crisis,” she stated.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk stated he would “reset” probation to prioritise early engagement on the level the place offenders are probably to breach their licence circumstances, however did not commit new cash to the service.

He additionally didn’t say home abuse perpetrators will probably be exempted from the brand new scheme. Mr Chalk informed MPs that governors will have the ability to make a “gold command veto” to cease sure criminals being launched.

“Where the governor has concerns about an individual that will be escalated to a panel with senior officials who will make a decision based upon what is that offender’s history, what is the proposed bail address, what are the conditions that could be imposed – a not to contact, not to enter, for example, to abide by a curfew, to potentially be tagged,” he said.

“If the governor has considerations about security, then that particular person is not going to be launched. That is a safeguard that was not accessible underneath the Labour scheme which ran for 3 years (in 2007) and it’s completely crucial to prioritising public security, that’s our absolute focus.”