Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Justice Secretary, has responded to the Government’s announcement that they plan to end their Early Release scheme.
"We have been calling for an end to the government’s reckless early release scheme for some time", he said.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he welcomed the announcement in principle, but cautioned that "as always with this government, you have to check the fine print".
Pointing out that the scheme's introduction was a direct of Gordon Brown refusing to fund prison cells that the then Home Secretary had asked for, Grieve said that its consequences had been stark:
"80,000 criminals let out of jail early. Including 15,000 violent offenders and two terrorists. Those released went on to commit 1,500 crimes, including several rape and murder offences."
Presented several reasons why ending the scheme "leaves a gaping hole in the government’s plans", Grieve warned that whilst "it is vital to bring the scheme to a close", this must be done by "providing the cells to house the prisoners, and protect the public".
Emphasising that the Conservatives support ending the scheme he cautioned that "it would compound the very recklessness of the scheme to end it when that can only be done temporarily, or to re-introduce it under another name".
He also highlighted the fact that the Minister of State had denied government plans to end early release just two weeks ago, saying that they would only do so "as soon as is practically possible".
Grieve asked why this situation had suddenly changed. "Could it be the timing of the end of the scheme, on 12 March just weeks before an election is called?"
"This only confirms our fears that the government is acting out of political desperation, not the national interest".