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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 11:53 GMT
Early jail releases reach 14,000
Prison cell
The jail population hit a record of more than 81,000 last year
Almost 14,000 prisoners have been freed early from jail to ease overcrowding, Ministry of Justice figures show.

Some 13,742 offenders were freed under the early-release scheme in England and Wales from its introduction on 29 July 2007 until the end of November.

This included 2,533 people convicted of violence against the person, 280 robbers and four sex offenders.

Some 117 offenders who committed further crimes during their release period remain at large.

Some 244 offences have allegedly been committed by offenders released early during the period when they would otherwise have been in jail, the figures also show.

The number of prisoners in England and Wales hit a record high on 27 September last year when there were 81,135 people locked up in jails and in police stations.

The End of Custody Licence scheme applies to criminals convicted of lower-level offences and jailed for no more than four years.

Ministers introduced the scheme in June 2007 as the prison population reached capacity.

Under the scheme, prisoners can be released to serve the final 18 days of their sentence in the community in order to free up cells for those being sent from the courts.

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