Ministers under Fire as Released Prisoners Rape, Rob and Murder

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Byline: By David Barrett Western Mail

Ministers were accused of a serious failure yesterday, after new figures showed more than 60 rapes, murders and other heinous crimes were committed by offenders let loose in the community. Experts said the true figure was likely to be 250 - but the Home Office excluded crucial information from its official statistics. Among the two highest categories of offenders, 61 were charged with a serious further offence such as rape, murder, manslaughter or armed robbery in 2005-06.

But annual data from the Multi- Agency Public Protection Arrangements, or Mappa, contained no details about how many serious charges were brought against offenders classed as lower risk.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation union Napo, said, 'The vast majority of serious further offences are actually committed by offenders in the lowest tier.

'About 250 people in total are convicted of a serious further offence each year, although that is not included in today's statistics.

'The number of people working in Mappa needs to increase markedly to get the number of serious offences down.'

In all, 1,540 offenders breached their licence (up 18% year-on- year) and 104 breached an order, up from 73 in the previous year.

The data revealed a large jump in the number of registered sex offenders who committed further offences by breaching their conditions. There was a 30% leap in the number charged or cautioned, up to nearly 1,300 from 990 last year.

In Wales, the force with the highest number of registered sex offenders was Gwent, with 70 per 100,000 of population.

For Dyfed-Powys the figure is 64 and for South Wales 63.

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said, 'The Government's primary duty is the protection of its citizens. These figures betray a serious failure by the Government to carry out that duty.

'This is yet more evidence of the Government's failure to monitor and control dangerous offenders who are placed in our com- munities, once released from prison.

'It also raises serious questions about the Government's assessment of offenders for release in the first place. …