Eight life prisoners temporarily released 'had wrong risk score'

The offenders had the wrong assessment score after a computer glitch, the justice secretary has said.

Eight life prisoners temporarily released from Scottish jails ‘had wrong risk score’ iStock

Eight offenders sentenced to life in prison who were allowed temporary release had the wrong risk assessment score after a computer glitch, the justice secretary has said.

Keith Brown told Holyrood last week that a computer glitch led to risk scores of offenders – which contribute to decisions made on early release – being calculated wrongly.

Speaking before the Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday, Brown confirmed that some offenders given a life sentence had been allowed temporary release – with the permission of his junior minister – with the wrong risk level calculated.

However, he stressed that all of the cases have been reviewed and there is no danger to the wider public.

Under regulations put in place in 2011, those on a life sentence – who are otherwise barred from temporary release – can apply for a “first grant of temporary release” (FGTR) to the Scottish Government and must receive the consent of the community safety minister, currently Ash Regan.

“Having carried out a reconciliation of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) with the identified affected cases, eight cases where FGTR have been granted were found,” he said.

“These have all been looked at again and I’m able to confirm there are no immediate or concerning public protection risks highlighted, although these eight cases will be further reviewed by the risk review group to provide further assurance.”

The glitch, which saw 1317 scores of 24,000 that “did not match” the correct risk level identified by assessments, was announced last week, but had been discovered by a member of SPS staff in January.

Some 1032 closed cases were also caught in the glitch, but as of his statement last week, 537 had been corrected and social workers have been instructed to review all of their open cases.

During the committee, the justice secretary confirmed that all of the 285 open cases had been reviewed, as of Tuesday.

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