Fife prisoners among those released early to help tackle coronavirus

Early release has helped increase capacity in prisons to help tackle Covid-19

By Fiona Dobie
Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 8:40 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 8:55 am

Twenty-four prisoners from Fife have been released early under measures designed to tackle coronavirus.

In April, the Scottish Government announced that up to 450 prisoners serving short-term sentences and nearing the end of their time in custody would be considered for early release.

The decision was taken in a bid to protect the safety of prisoners, prison staff and the NHS staff and others that work in prisons.

There were 34 prisoners from Fife eligible, with 24 of these released across three phases between May 6 and June 1.

One was released on a Home Detention Curfew (electronic monitoring) and another’s release was time-bound as their original release date fell within a few days of the emergency powers being brought in.

Eight were prevented by the governor’s veto.

None showed any symptoms of Covid-19 which would have delayed their release.

By using the emergency release powers, combined with increasing those on electronic monitoring, it has provided the Scottish Prison Service with additional operational capacity including allowing for greater use of single cell occupancy to help prevent the spread of coronavirus within prisons.

Those considered for early release during the three phases were those convicted of ‘lesser crimes’ who would be due to get out soon in any case.

Prisoners who have been jailed for life or with convictions for sexual offences, domestic abuse or terrorism offences, were not eligible for the scheme.

Across Scotland a total of 348 people have been released from prison in the course of this scheme, from 445 people who were eligible.

A further 34 were released on their original scheduled date or with electronic monitoring on home detention curfew.