PRISON bosses have admitted to setting loose nearly 50 paedophiles and violent criminals because of “sloppy” admin errors.
Figures released through a Freedom Of Information request show the Scottish Prison Service has freed 48 sex beasts, drug dealers and thugs over the last seven years.
This year alone has seen the biggest number of inmates allowed to freely roam the streets.
Some convicts have even enjoyed up to four months of freedom before bungling prison bosses noticed their monumental mistake.
Prison bosses sheepishly admitted “it’s not ideal” but campaigners said the catalogue of disasters made by the Scottish Prison Service is “unforgiveable”.
The figures dating back to 2005 show that the offenders have been released from some of the country’s most notorious lock-ups.
In 2007 a fraudster was wrongfully handed his liberty – he spent 111 days as a free man from Saughton Prison in Edinburgh before being hauled back in.
In 2008 a violent lag was gifted 23 days of freedom after being released from HMP Kilmarnock.
A year later and a sex offender locked up in Barlinnie in Glasgow was spent four days on the outside.
This year alone eight prisoners were wrongly released from HMPs Edinburgh, Barlinnie and Kilmarnock.
Margaret Watson, who set up Justice for Victims after her daughter Diane was murdered 20 years ago, said: “It’s unforgiveable. If mistakes are happening the system needs to be tightened up.
“The length of the sentences should be checked, double-checked and triple checked.”
Mothers Against Murder And Aggression (MAMAA) said these kinds of errors lead to “dire consequences”.
A spokeswoman said: “It is unreasonable that attempts are being made to excuse such serious mistakes. They are avoidable and every measure should be taken to ensure that they stop.
“Mistakes like these are sloppy and unprofessional and could lead to dire consequences, and need to be addressed with the seriousness they deserve.”
Labour’s Justice spokesman Lewis MacDonald was reeling at the figures.
He said: “It’s not unreasonable to expect our jails to calculate sentencing accurately.”
Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont said keeping felons behind bars should be a “straightforward process”.
He said: “It’s bad enough that the SNP’s automatic early release already sees thousands of criminals serve only half or two-thirds of their sentence.
“Now we learn that administrative blunders are at a five year high meaning even more convicts are walking free when they shouldn’t be.
“The public will find it hard to understand why what should be a straightforward process could have such a number of mistakes.”
The Prison Officers Association (POA) admitted the mistaken releases were down to human error.
Andy Hogg, Scottish secretary for the POA, said: “This is caused by people making mistakes when they are inputting data – it’s certainly not ideal.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service added: “The calculation of a release date can be complicated by matters such as taking into account whether a prisoner was held on remand, where more than one sentence is being served and whether or not sentences are concurrent.
“Over the period in question the SPS will have processed in the region of 100,000 prisoners.”