(351)  MIS-PLACED RELIANCE?

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The 17-year old convicted killer James McCormick, whose mistaken release from custody by the private company Reliance just after it had taken over from the police prisoner court escort duties created a major political row for the Justice Minister (see No 350), was rearrested on 25 April 2004.  The Minister made a parliamentary statement on 21 April, defending the privatisation of the service but severely criticising the performance of Reliance.  Prisoners have continued to go missing since, but Reliance’s performance was placed in some perspective by former chief prisons inspector Clive Fairweather, who characterised the problem as minor, and also noted that as many as 50 people a year could be released in error under the old regime.  He said: If I had 50p for every prisoner that was liberated in error by the Scottish Prison Service and the police when they were doing the job I think I’d be quite a rich man.

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