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Sturgeon announces end of automatic early release for serious offenders

3 February 2015

No long-term prisoner in Scotland will in future be eligible for automatic early release, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today.

Visiting the Glasgow offices of Victim Support Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said the Government proposed to amend the Prisoners (Control of Release) (Scotland) Bill, currently before the Scottish Parliament, so that no offender serving more than four years would be automatically allowed out on licence.

At present all offenders serving a fixed term of more than four years qualify for automatic release on licence after two thirds of their sentence has been served. The new bill currently provides that prisoners sentenced to four years or more for sex offences, and 10 years or more for other crimes, will not be released without their case being considered by the Parole Board for Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon also announced that a guaranteed period of supervision would be put in place for prisoners guilty of serious offences, maintaining public safety by promoting the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders coming out of custody into the community.

The First Minister stated that public safety was an "absolute priority" for her Government, and significant progress had been made in recent years. She added: “But we are not complacent, and we recognise that tough action is required to tackle those offenders who commit the most serious crimes, ensuring that communities are kept safe while at the same time making efforts to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

“Prison remains the most appropriate place for serious offenders, and we had already included proposals in the Prisoners (Control of Release) Bill to end automatic early release for certain categories of prisoner.

“Today I am announcing that we will go much further, ending automatic early release at two-thirds of their sentence for all long-term prisoners in Scotland – which are defined as those sentenced to four years or more. That means every prisoner serving a sentence of four years or more will remain in jail for much longer than is currently the case if deemed necessary by the Parole Board."

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