Programme to monitor sex offenders suffers 90% funding cut
SPENDING on a scheme to monitor high-risk sex offenders newly released from Scottish jails has been slashed by more than £1 million, or 90 per cent, newly released figures have revealed.
The Scottish Government reduced its financial support for Intensive Support Packages (ISP) from more than £1.2 million to just over £120,000 during the last three years.
Under the terms of an ISP, sex offenders can have their movements restricted and supervised as well as being forced to regularly report to the authorities following their release from prison.
However, the number of ISP orders imposed on offenders halved from 26 to 13 within the last three years, according to Scottish Government figures.
In October 2009, sex offender Ryan Yates tried to murder a woman so he could abduct and rape her young grand-daughters, just days after being released from prison where he had been serving a sentence for a sexual offence.
Just two days before the incident in an Aberdeen park, and four days after Yates had been freed, authorities had obtained a court order banning him from accosting females in public.
The Scottish Government said probation officials had requested fewer ISPs last year and that the number of orders imposed can “vary considerably year to year” depending on the number of sex offenders coming out of jail.
But Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman, Lewis Macdonald MSP, said: “I’m extremely concerned about what this means, as these orders can play a critical role in keeping the public safe.
“To reduce spending on this crucial area of public safety seems extraordinary and must not be allowed to happen.
“It looks like the government is putting the safety of the public at risk in order to save money … the justice secretary needs to explain why we are spending so much less.”
The Scottish Government website talks about how ISPs are “provided to manage high-risk individuals in the community” with the scheme usually run by crime prevention bodies such as Sacro and Apex.
The government figures, which were obtained by Mr Macdonald, showed that in 2011-12 the number of ISPs stood at 13, compared with 16 in 2010-11 and 25 in 2009-10.
Spending on the services fell from £1,210,613 in 2009-10 to £734,258 in 2010-11 and then £121,443 for 2011-12.
A Victim Support Scotland spokesman said: “Naturally, we are concerned that there is appropriate spending to adequately monitor all sex offenders. Victim Support will be watching the situation very closely.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “A very small number of offenders are managed in the community through the provision of Intensive Support Packages. These are demand-led, so the numbers can vary considerably year to year.
“It is for local agencies working together under MAPPA [Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements] or other appropriate risk-management arrangements to decide who should be subject to monitoring by ISP. Funding from the Scottish Government for ISPs is only provided in cases where costs cannot be covered by the respective community justice authority.
“Law-enforcement agencies are working more closely together than ever before to assess and monitor convicted sex offenders and now have tougher powers than ever before to manage these individuals upon release.”
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