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Prison Mix-Ups Cause Mistaken Release of Over 500 Inmates in Last Decade

Nearly one inmate a week on average has been mistakenly released from prison over the last decade, new figures reveal. Just under a quarter of those accidentally let go were serving time for burglary or violent offences.

According to data revealed in an Freedom of Information request by the Press Association, 505 prisoners have been mistakenly released from jail over the last decade, the Times has reported.

In 2014 -15 alone, 48 prisoners were released in error. Figures peaked in 2009-10, when 68 prisoners, more than one a week were mistakenly set free.

HMP Bullingdon in Oxfordshire had the highest rate of mistaken releases, letting 10 prisoners out before their time was up in just two years.

In one instance, which occurred in July last year, a prisoner was released from HMP Hewell in Worcestershire after being confused with another inmate with the same surname. He was caught and returned to prison a day later.

Nearly a quarter of all those released mistakenly were serving time for violent offences or robberies, raising questions over public safety.

Andy Slaughter, Labour’s shadow justice minister, said: “This is a further sign of the crisis in our prisons where overcrowding is rife.”

The Prison Service said: “These incidents are very rare but we are not complacent. The number of releases in error have fallen by almost a third since 2009, and the vast majority are returned very quickly.”

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