Publication - FOI/EIR release

Prisoners released early due to COVID-19: FOI release

Published: 25 Jun 2020

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Published:
25 Jun 2020
Prisoners released early due to COVID-19: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/202000036416
Date received: 13 May 2020
Date responded: 12 Jun 2020
Information requested

(1) How many prisoners were released early due to Covid19.
(2) How long did the sentences have to run.
(3) What was their crimes they were sentenced for.
(4) Do all, or how many, have to be tagged.

Response

I enclose a copy of the information you requested.

(1) How many prisoners were released early due to Covid19.
I can confirm that 348 prisoners were released under these provisions. More detailed information can be found in three Tranche Reports contained on the Scottish Prison Service website on the following page - https://www.sps.gov.uk/Corporate/Information/covid19/covid-19-information-hub.aspx.

(2) How long did the sentences have to run.
The release scheme was limited to those sentenced to 18 months or less and who on 4 May had 90 days or less left to serve in custody. Further information on sentence length can be found within the table below.

(3) What was their crimes they were sentenced for.
The detailed classification of crimes and offences used by the Scottish Government to collect criminal statistics contains around 500 codes, which are subsequently grouped into a series of 35 different offence categories. More information about these categories can be found on page 118 of the Recorded Crime in Scotland 2018-19 statistics -
https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/statistics/2019/09/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19/documents/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19/govscot%3Adocument/recorded-crime-scotland-2018-19.pdf

Please find enclosed below a table which contains details of the primary offences committed by the 348 prisoners liberated under the early release provisions. Please note that sentencing decisions are reflective of a number of factors such as the severity of the crime and whether the individual has offended in the past. In addition, the decision on what type of sentence is reasonable will be based on the personal circumstances of the offender.

 

Primary Offence

 

Total

0<=3

months

3<=6

months

6<=12

months

12<=18

months

2

'Attempted murder and serious assault' *

21

1

3

4

13

3

'Robbery'

12

0

1

5

6

4

'Other non-sexual crimes of violence'

1

0

0

1

0

9

'Housebreaking'

34

2

11

15

6

10

'Theft by opening lockfast places'

6

0

1

5

0

11

'Theft from a motor vehicle (OLP)'

3

1

1

0

1

12

'Theft of motor vehicle'

12

1

5

4

2

13

'Shoplifting'

62

5

36

18

3

14

'Other theft'

22

2

7

12

1

15

'Fraud'

3

0

1

1

1

16

'Other dishonesty'

8

3

3

2

0

17

'Fire-raising'

3

0

1

0

2

18

'Vandalism etc.'

11

1

5

4

1

19

'Crimes against public justice'

30

2

15

9

4

20

'Handling offensive weapons'

33

0

7

13

13

21

'Drugs'

24

0

4

11

9

* Please note that none of these individuals' primary offence was attempted murder

The legislation passed by Parliament provides a number of statutory exclusions which specifically exclude from consideration any prisoner convicted of sexual or terrorism offences or imprisoned for life. The full range of statutory exclusions in the legislation can be found in Paragraph 19 on the following page - https://www.legislation.gov.uk/asp/2020/7/schedule/4/enacted

(4) Do all, or how many, have to be tagged.
There is no legislative requirement for prisoners to be released under this scheme on an electronic tag and these prisoners have therefore not been tagged. This cohort were released under the terms of the legislation passed by Parliament and under the terms of that legislation release is treated as though the  period in custody had ended. All those released were due to have their time in custody end within 90 days. At that point, unless there are specific conditions in place such as licence conditions, individuals are not typically electronically tagged on release.

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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG