Sturgeon claims ‘no public-protection issues’ from IT glitch in prisoner risk assessments

Written by Louise Wilson on 21 March 2022 in News

Tech issue dating back 10 years is understood to have caused inmates to be wrongly graded

Credit: Michael Coghlan/CC BY-SA 2.0

There are “no public-protection issues” arising from an IT error which led to prisoners being wrongly graded in a risk assessment, according to Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

But the Scottish Conservatives have said it is still unclear how many people were wrongly released as a result of the technical problems. Ministers were warned the glitch, which dates back to 2012, could have led to criminals being let out too early.

Addressing the issue at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament last week, Sturgeon said decisions on early release never rested solely on the risk-assessment grading, adding that open cases had been checked.

She also said, of the eight individuals who had been granted the first stage of temporary release – whereby they may have limited or escorted access to communities – seven of them were still in custody.

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She said: “Following a review by the Scottish Prison Service, we can confirm there are no public-protection issues as a consequence of this issue in relation to the eight identified first grant of temporary release cases… All 285 open cases that the risk scoring level issues appeared to have affected have also now been checked by social work professionals, and they have provided assurances again that no public-protection issues have been identified.”

Justice secretary Keith Brown previously told parliament there were also 1,037 closed cases affected by the error, though in 537 of these s social workers had overridden the score at the time.

Jamie Greene, acting as the Scottish Tory justice spokesperson, said the justice system in Scotland was “stacked against victims”.

He said: “It’s all very well saying there were no public protection issues, but the reality is we still don’t know, first minister. We don’t know how many people were wrongly released.  We also don’t know how many of them possibly went on to reoffend in our communities. I’m afraid this blunder is just another sign that this government has lost its way on justice.”


About the author

Louise Wilson is a journalist at PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @louisewilso.

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