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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 June, 2005, 17:32 GMT 18:32 UK
Study examines prisoner releases
Reliance van and handcuffs
The Reliance contract has been rolled out across Scotland
Prison and police officers released more prisoners in error over the last year than the private escort service Reliance, a report has found.

The Scottish Prison Service study was presented to MSPs on Tuesday.

They heard that Reliance wrongly freed 22 prisoners in the year to March while prison and police officers and court officials released 23.

The company was embroiled in a row only days after it took over its first prisoner escort contract in Scotland.

Convicted murderer James McCormick sparked a major manhunt after duping guards into setting him free from Hamilton Sheriff Court in April last year.

Escort contract

The following month Reliance incurred 75,000 in penalties after accepting the blame for allowing three people to walk free by mistake.

But by December the company said it had overcome the "teething problems" which marred the start of its prisoner escort contract in west central Scotland.

The company's 126m contract has now been rolled out across Scotland.

'Questions remain'

The SPS report was presented to MSPs by its chief executive, Tony Cameron.

Scottish National Party MSP Stewart Stevenson said his party welcomed the improved performance of Reliance, although questions remained about the company.

The Conservatives' Margaret Mitchell said the combined figures reflected the Scottish Executive's inability to stem the flow of prisoners released in error.


SEE ALSO:
Reliance performance 'improving'
02 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Fines for prisoner transfer firm
28 May 04 |  Scotland
Reliance makes new prisoner error
18 May 04 |  Scotland
Prisoner releases 'a minor issue'
05 May 04 |  Scotland
Escort boss 'sorry' over escape
13 Apr 04 |  Scotland


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