Thousands of prisoners escaped, absconded or been mistakenly freed
Thousands of prisoners have escaped, absconded or been mistakenly freed from jail in Britain, damning new data has revealed – with rapists and robbers among the criminals on the loose
- More than three inmates left jail unlawfully every week since 2012, data shows
- READ MORE: Figures show 2.3 million offences were dropped without a suspect
More than 2,400 criminals including rapists and robbers have either escaped, absconded or been freed from jail by mistake since 2012, damning new data has revealed.
The shocking figures equate to more than three prisoners leaving prison unlawfully every week in the UK, Ministry of Justice data suggests.
The figures for England and Wales which cover March 2012 to March 2023 show that during that period, 146 criminals escaped, 1,634 absconded, and 672 were released in error – a total of 2,452.
Highlighting the data, the Labour Party said it demonstrates that the Conservatives – who have been in government since 2010 – have been ‘soft on crime’ and unable to do ‘the basic job of keeping dangerous criminals locked up’.
But the Tories hit back, claiming that it is Labour who is ‘soft on crime’ and that criminals ‘are desperate for a Labour government’.
In March, Rayon Newby, who was serving a sentence for assault, harassment and burglary offences, was let out by mistake just two days after being jailed
In 2021, William Fernandez was awaiting trial for sexual assault when he was let out in error from HMP Wormwood
A Conservative Party spokesperson claimed absconds – meaning an escape where a prisoner did not have to get past a physical security restraint – were ’91 per cent higher’ while escapes were ’71 per cent higher’ under Labour.
The figures have emerged following a number of high profile cases of dangerous criminals escaping jail and getting back out onto the streets.
In March, Rayon Newby, who was serving a sentence for assault, harassment and burglary offences, was let out by mistake just two days after being jailed.
Members of the public were asked not to approach the 20-year-old after he went on the run from HMP Thameside in Greenwich.
In 2022, James Taplin from Gloucestershire was released in error after being remanded on charges of aggravated burglary and malicious wounding.
The judge had to issue a warrant for his arrest, and said, according to the BBC: ‘He is probably enjoying his ill-gotten freedom then, isn’t he?’
In 2021, William Fernandez was awaiting trial for sexual assault when he was let out in error from HMP Wormwood.
The sexual predator then went on to rape a 16-year-old girl and sexually assault a young woman.
In 2022, James Taplin from Gloucestershire was released in error after being remanded on charges of aggravated burglary and malicious wounding
Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed said: ‘This Conservative Government can’t do the basic job of keeping dangerous criminals locked up.
‘The public will be horrified that so many violent criminals, rapists and robbers have been let out unlawfully.
‘Rishi Sunak must come clean and explain why the Conservatives are on the side of criminals, not the law-abiding majority.
‘Labour is the party of law and order. In government, we will ensure that dangerous criminals are where they belong – behind bars.’
Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed said: ‘This Conservative Government can’t do the basic job of keeping dangerous criminals locked up’
Sky quotes a Tory spokesperson as saying: ‘There is no doubt, criminals are desperate for a Labour government and a weak justice secretary like Steve Reed, who has voted time after time for weaker sentences for child killers and violent sexual offenders.
‘This Conservative government is locking up more dangerous criminals for longer, increasing convictions for serious offences like rape, and cutting crime by over 50 per cent compared with 2010, keeping our communities safe.’
It comes after Labour accused the government of overseeing ‘abysmal’ crime-solving rates.
READ MORE: Police forces will be ordered to offer direct routes for detectives to join under Labour plans to tackle ‘abysmal’ crime-solving rates
Labour pointed to Home Office data for England and Wales that showed under six per cent of of crimes were solved by police last year.
The proportion of crimes that resulted in a charge or summons was 5.7 per cent, although that figure represented a small increase on the previous year.
The figures, which cover a 12-month period from April 2022 onwards, showed that 2.3 million crimes were dropped without a suspect being found.
The charge rate for sexual offences was 3.6 per cent, with rape at 2.1 per cent. Only 6.5 per cent of robbery offences ended with someone being charged.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: ‘After 13 years of Tory government, over 90 per cent of crimes are going unsolved.
‘That is the abysmal Conservative record on law and order – more criminals being let off and more victims being let down.’
Policing minister Chris Philp accused Labour of being ‘soft on crime and soft on criminals’.
He said: ‘Where Labour are in power, crime is over a third higher than Conservative-run areas, and Sir Keir Starmer whipped his MPs to vote against tougher sentences for rapists and murderers, as well as campaigning to keep dangerous foreign criminals in the UK.
‘Under the Conservatives, adult rape convictions have increased by two thirds over the last year, dangerous criminals are being locked up for longer, and there are now over 20,000 new police officers helping to keep our streets safe.’
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