Two prisoners who have been released early due to the Covid-19 pandemic have reoffended, Scotland’s most senior police officer has said.
Speaking at the daily briefing on coronavirus in Edinburgh, Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said reoffending rates among the nearly 300 inmates freed to help quell the spread of the virus in Scottish prisons has been “very, very low”.
As part of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act, passed in April, some prisoners nearing the end of their sentence could be eligible for early release.
The legislation exempted those convicted of terror or sexual offences from early release, as well as anyone posing a threat to an identified person.
Earlier this week, Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham – the leader of Police Scotland’s response to Covid-19 – said early release had not been “wholly without incident”, however he declined to go into specifics.
At the briefing, Mr Livingstone said: “As of yesterday, we think there is almost 300 people who have been released back into the community and actually there has only been, as of yesterday, two individuals who have come to our notice for reoffending.”
Mr Livingstone added the release of prisoners was “not without risk”, but said: “We’ve been working very closely with the Scottish Prison Service, very closely with the third sector and other agencies in the community that provide support for people and their families when they’re released from prisons.”
He said the initiative to release the prisoners had been subject to “rigorous debate and preparation”.
He added: “The Cabinet Secretary for Justice made it very clear that it wouldn’t include people convicted of sexual offences, it wouldn’t include people with a history of domestic abuse and there would be risk assessments made against each and every individual who has been released.
“The reason for that was for the public health imperative that existed.”