MURDERERS, armed robbers and sex offenders are among hundreds of prisoners who have been released by mistake.
Some 48 suspected or convicted criminals were freed in England and Wales because of blunders in 2014/15, according to shocking new figures.
In the last decade 505 prisoners have been let out in error – a rate of just under one every week.
Critics labelled the findings “disturbing” and said bungling prison bosses were putting law-abiding Britons at risk.
Tory backbencher Philip Davies said: “The first duty of the Prison Service should be protection of the public.
“These disturbing figures show that once a week the Prison Service release the wrong prisoner, and have done so for many years.
“This is nothing more than a shambles which puts the public unnecessarily at risk.”
Lucy Hastings of the charity Victim Support said victims will be “alarmed and frustrated” by the data.
She said: “We know it can be distressing and worrying when offenders are released from custody – releases made in error can make this many times worse.”
And shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter said: “This is a further sign of the crisis in our prisons where overcrowding and violence are rife.”
The Ministry of Justice revealed 41 people were wrongly released from prison and seven from court custody in 2014/15.
The number was one fewer than the 49 mistakenly freed in the previous year, according to the data released under Freedom of Information laws.
Two of those freed in error in 2014/15 had not been returned to custody as of the end of last month – including an alleged sex offender released from court.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Public protection is our top priority. These incidents are very rare but we are not complacent.
“The number of releases in error have fallen by almost a third since 2009 and the vast majority are returned to custody very quickly.
“The Prison Service investigates each incident and they are reported to the police for further action.”