Murderers & rapists at large: Police won't name 1,000 criminals who should be in jail but have vanished... to protect THEIR privacy
By James Slack, Matthew Hickley and Rebecca Camber
In a massive new law and order scandal, almost 1,000 criminals including murderers, rapists and paedophiles are wrongly at large.
The dangerous convicts should have been returned to jail after committing new crimes or breaking the terms of their early release.
But they have been allowed to cheat justice for up to 25 years after police forces across the country failed to track them down.
Incredibly, some police forces are refusing to identify the danger men, citing data protection laws.
The Government knew little or nothing of the fiasco until after a review was ordered two years ago.
The findings were made public yesterday, sparking a belated police hunt to find the fugitives.
Those who remain on the run include 20 murderers, 15 rapists and five paedophiles.
Of the 954 criminals wrongly at large, at least 59 have re-offended, including crimes of rape.
The figures reignited concerns about the ability of the police and probation service to protect the public, and privately some ministers were known to be unhappy with the police
Dr David Green, of the Civitas think-tank, attacked the decision by some police forces not to disclose the identities of those on the run.
He said: 'If an offender is on the run from justice, what kind of expectation of privacy can he possibly have?'
The scandal, which was announced jointly by Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Justice Secretary Jack Straw, has echoes of the foreign prisoner fiasco in which 1,000 overseas convicts were mistakenly freed without being even considered for deportation, leading to the sacking of of Charles Clarke as Home Secretary in 2006.
Yesterday's revelations are understood to stem from reviews ordered in the wake of that debacle to see what other 'horrors' were lurking in the corridors of Whitehall.
Police forces may put out 'wanted' notices for criminals who have not been successfully recalled, but only 13 currently appear on the Crimewatch website. Some are on the websites of individual forces.
The Ministry of Justice said it was the responsibility of individual forces to decide whether to make the criminals' identities public.
The Daily Mail discovered confusion and inconsistency across the country yesterday.
When we contacted the 43 police forces in England and Wales, all but one were unable to provide all the names of wanted criminals on recall from prison in their area. Two forces, Durham and Surrey, refused to provide any details, citing the Data Protection Act.
Other forces said they would be prepared to release names of those missing only if it was sanctioned by the officer in the case.
A number of forces publish wanted lists on their websites, but many do not disclose the crime for which the offender was convicted.
And some forces help their suspects raise money to help pay their mortgage
Source: Daily Mail