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Nine inmates, including those serving time for violent crimes, released from prison by MISTAKE

By Alex Ross | Crime | Published:

Nine criminals were mistakenly released from prisons in Birmingham and South Staffordshire in three years, figures revealed today.

HMP Featherstone

They came from HMP Birmingham, and HMP Featherstone, HMP Oakwood and HM Brinsford in Featherstone, near Wolverhampton.

The prisoners were serving time for a range of crimes, including violence against a person, theft and drug offences.

They were all returned to custody.

The figures were obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice. They were for the period from April 2014 to March 2017.

A prisoner is officially classed as having been released in error if they are wrongly discharged from an establishment or court when they should have remained in custody.

Examples of errors can include misplaced warrants for imprisonment or remand, recall notices not being acted on, sentence miscalculations or discharging the wrong person on escort.

In 2016/17 two prisoners were mistakenly released from HMP Birmingham, one who was serving a sentence for a motoring offence, the other for theft.

'Rare and unusual'

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In the same period, a prisoner serving time for drug offences was mistakenly released from HMP Oakwood.

During 2015/16, two more prisoners were mistakenly released from HMP Birmingham, one from Featherstone and one from HM Brinsford.

In 2014/15 two prisoners, who were both serving time for violence against a person, were released by mistake from HMP Birmingham and HMP Featherstone.

G4S runs HMP Birmingham and HMP Oakwood. The Ministry of Justice runs HM Brinsford and HMP Featherstone.

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A G4S spokesman said: "Releases in error are very rare and in those unusual instances where a prisoner has been released incorrectly we’ve worked with the police and other local agencies to quickly ensure they are brought back into custody.

"In each case we’ve reviewed our procedures and provided additional training to those who manage prisoner’s remand and release information to prevent the same errors from occurring again."

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "These incidents are rare and the vast majority are returned to custody very quickly.

“We work closely with the police to recapture offenders at large and investigate each of these incidents thoroughly to see what lessons can be learned."

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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