Just one of the many risks associated with the TR omnishambles, foisted upon the Probation Service by Chris Grayling and enthusiastically supported by the Liberal Democrats, was the likelihood of an increase in Serious Further Offences. This from yesterday's Daily Mail:-
Criminals out of jail on probation 'murder 76 people a year': Offenders were also charged with more than 1,000 rapes and 134 kidnaps over five year period
Criminals have been charged with nearly 400 murders while under official supervision. Damning figures reveal the public is being put in danger by offenders who commit chilling crimes despite being on probation. They are meant to be monitored closely, but 76 a year are being hauled before the courts for killing in cold blood.
Offenders on probation were charged with 382 murders between 2012 and 2016, according to figures from the Ministry of Justice – the department which changed the regime for managing criminals in the community in 2014. They were also charged with 200 attempted murders, 34 manslaughters, 1,024 rapes or attempted rapes, 134 kidnaps, 54 arson attacks and 457 other serious sexual or violent offences – a total of 2,285 violent and sexual offences, or the equivalent of nine serious attacks a week.
Of the 2,829 cases of homicide, including both murder and manslaughter, between 2012 and 2016, one in seven was carried out by criminals under supervision. The figures, released by the MoJ in response to Freedom of Information requests, raise fresh concerns over whether dangerous offenders are being released too soon – and whether the authorities are able to monitor them safely.
Among the most notorious cases of monitoring failures is that of serial killer Joanna Dennehy, who murdered three men in 2013 while under the supervision of probation workers. Last night critics said the figures were evidence of how the public was being put at risk by failures in the monitoring system.
David Spencer, of the Centre For Crime Prevention think-tank, said: 'These shocking figures show that, despite the recent Government shake-up, probation in the UK is still not fit for purpose. For even one criminal to be released under supervision, only to commit a serious crime, is unacceptable. For the figures to be in the thousands, and to include almost 400 murders, is staggering and will only serve to hugely undermine public trust in the justice system. 'It is painfully clear that an urgent review of the current system is needed.'
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron added: 'This is scandalous and should make every right-thinking person outraged. Probation and supervision is supposed to be for offenders who are low risk and yet it seems some of the most dangerous people are being let out to commit further crimes, including murder. Enough is enough. An urgent investigation must be conducted and ministers need to be held accountable.'
Bob Neill, who was Tory chairman of the justice select committee in the last Parliament, said: 'This seems to prove that the probation arrangements are not working properly. They are not rehabilitating offenders nor protecting the public. These figures are a real concern and they show that the system is failing and needs overhauling.'
The Government introduced the £3.7billion Transforming Rehabilitation programme in 2015 in a bid to tackle reoffending – which costs society £15billion a year. The overhaul created a National Probation Service to deal with high-risk offenders, with the remainder assigned to 21 partly privatised Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).
The reforms saw all prisoners sentenced to a year or less given 12 months of supervision on release. Under a payment-by-results scheme, the CRCs check whether criminals are complying with court requirements and help rehabilitate them. Damningly, the number of so-called Serious Further Offences – serious crimes committed by offenders on probation – has soared 30 per cent since the Government shook up probation, from 404 to 522.
Ian Lawrence of Napo, the probation officers' union, said thousands of staff had been laid off since the shake-up, meaning staff were increasingly supervising offenders remotely.
He said: 'The situation is going to get worse and it is going to put even more people at risk. If offenders are not being seen, or not as frequently, and the level of supervision is not what it should be, then mistakes will occur. There are people on the streets who are not being properly supervised, which means they are a real and present danger to the public.'
Killer Joanna Dennehy was under supervision of probation workers when she murdered three men. Fuelled by a 'sadistic lust for blood', she killed Lukasz Slaboszewski, Kevin Lee and John Chapman in March 2013. All three men were stabbed through the heart. At the time, Dennehy was serving a 12-month community order for assault and owning a dangerous dog.
She was supposedly being supervised by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Probation service, but simply skipped appointments after moving to Lincolnshire. A leaked report revealed officials missed opportunities to spot the risk she posed and the mother of two was left in the hands of a junior manager. In 2014, tattooed Dennehy, 34, laughed and smirked when she was told she would never be released from prison, and told a judge she had 'no remorse'.
In December, a damning report found that the public was being put at risk because of 'unacceptable' failures in the supervision of offenders released on to the streets. Watchdogs said some criminals were not seen by probation workers for weeks or months, while others had vanished altogether. Last year, then-justice secretary Liz Truss ordered a full review of the probation service's privatisation.
An MoJ spokesman said: 'Keeping the public safe is our top priority and offenders on licence are subject to a strict set of conditions on release. A thorough investigation is always carried out when someone commits a serious further offence to see whether anything could have been done differently.'