Supervision System 'Fails' as Violent Criminals Re-Offend; Mersey Probation Staff Defend Record

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Byline: BY ROB MERRICK Political Corresponden

TWO violent criminals under community supervision in Merseyside and Cheshire were charged with murder, rape or another serious offence last year.

Opposition parties at Westminster said the pair were part of a 36%rise in serious re-offenders across England and Wales - from 61 to 83 - which amounted to a "catastrophic failure".

And the serious re-offender in Merseyside was among just 12 assessed as the "critical few" - with the highest risk of harming the public and under the most rigorous supervision.

Nick Herbert, Tory justice spokesman, said: "In spite of the focus on the most serious cases, unacceptable weaknesses in the arrangements for supervising offenders remain."

David Heath, for the Liberal Democrats, said: "For even one offender to commit another serious offence while under supervision is unacceptable. For 83 to do so in a single year, a tenth of all the offenders released from prison, is a catastrophic failure."

But, last night, Merseyside mounted a fierce defence of monitoring procedures, insisting it was going "from strength to strength".

Terry Eastham, of the National Probation Service in Merseyside, said the crime - an alleged murder - was the only serious charge against any of 283 offenders under supervision last year.

Mr Easthamsaid, it had not been a failure of supervision, because the dead person involved a family member.

Two independent inquiries, including by Merseyside's strategic management board - which includes lay members - had found no failures in practices. …