Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Labour's Release Scheme Led to Two Rapes, claimTories

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Labour's Release Scheme Led to Two Rapes, claimTories

Article excerpt

Byline: CHARLES REISS;BEN LEAPMAN

THE TORIES today blamed Labour for two rapes committed by convicts freed under the Government's early prison release scheme.

The charge, which threatens to inflame the political temperature over crime, is made in an election broadcast to be shown on television tonight.

The Tories were focusing their attack on the Home Detention Curfew scheme, introduced by Home Secretary Jack Straw. Since it came into effect in 1999, 35,000 convicts have been released, having served less than half their sentences.

Conservative officials released figures obtained from the Home Office, showing the kinds of offences they committed once released. They include 49 burglaries, 19 robberies and 25 assaults on police officers, as well as the two rapes.

A Tory official said: "We are pointing out that if it had not been for this early release scheme, the people who committed those crimes would still have been in prison at the time they committed it.

Referring to the rapes, the official said: "The facts are clear. If you had not had a Labour government introduce that scheme, those people would have been behind bars and unable to commit those two crimes."

A Conservative spokesman accused Labour of running an "open-door prisons policy" - and in the film, prisoners are shown going through a revolving door on their way to freedom, to a soundtrack of gloomy music.

Ministers have pointed out that convicted rapists are not allowed to apply for the Home Detention Curfew scheme. It is only open to prisoners sentenced to less than four years, but those released early have included people convicted of manslaughter and attempted murder.

The Tory attack carried echoes of the 1988 American presidential campaign when Republican candidate George Bush Snr made political capital from the story of Willie Horton, a killer let out on parole by Democratic contender Michael Dukakis, and who went on to kill. …

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