Victims to be notified ahead of emergency release of over 500 prisoners

Justice Secretary Angela Constance gave further details about plans to let 550 inmates walk free early.

Victims to be notified ahead of emergency release of over 500 prisoners PA Media

Work is being carried out to ensure victims are notified before prisoners are freed as part of emergency measures being brought in by the Government.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said Scottish Government officials, together with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, are working to “streamline” the process whereby victims can be notified ahead of an offender’s release.

Ms Constance said the move will allow those not currently registered to receive such information to be given details “about the release date of the prisoner in their case, if they are released as part of this emergency process”.

It comes as the Scottish Government prepares to start an emergency release of prisoners, which will happen in four phases starting at the end of June.

An estimated 550 prisoners are to be freed early after the number of inmates in Scotland’s jails rose significantly this year.

The Justice Secretary stressed prisoners serving life sentences or those convicted of terror-related, sexual or domestic violence offences will not be part of the scheme.

Prison governors will also have a veto to prevent the release of an eligible prisoner whom they consider to be an “immediate risk” to a group or individual.

Regulations to allow the early release to go ahead are expected to be approved by Holyrood, and should then come into force on June 13.

Prisoners with less than 45 days of their sentence left to serve will then be released on June 26 and 27, and those with 45-89 days left will walk free on July 3 and 4.

Inmates who have 90-134 days left to serve will be released on July 10 and 11, with the last group of prisoners – those who have 130 to 180 days left on their sentence – freed on July 17 and 18.

Ms Constance set out the details in a letter to Holyrood’s Criminal Justice Committee, telling them: “I am acutely aware that using emergency release is a significant step and this is not a decision I have taken lightly.

“I am clear that the situation in our prisons is so serious that emergency action is needed to keep people safe, and to protect the security and good order of prisons.”

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