Prisons: Released lifers commit new crimes

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Nearly 20 per cent of prisoners jailed for "life" but later released on licence committed a new offence within five years, a Home Office report reveals.

In the 22 years up to 1994, 1,691 criminals were released on "life licence" - in which the offender is automatically sent back to jail to continue his sentence if he or she breaks the law.

Although reconviction rates for people on life licence are much lower than the average for others released from custody, about 9 per cent broke the law within two years. Of those released, 66 were convicted of series offences such as murder, rape, robbery, and serious wounding.

Since the introduction of Discretionary Lifer Panels in 1992, which removed the power of release from the Home Secretary and gave it to the Parole Board, the number of lifers on licence has greatly increased.

Life Licensees - Reconvictions and Recalls by the End of 1995, Home Office, Information and Publications Group, Room 1308, Apollo House, 36 Wellesley Rd, Croydon, CR9 3RR.