Man wanted by South Yorkshire Police and recalled to prison still at large – as new report reveals rising number of inmates put back behind bars
A Barnsley man recalled to prison and wanted by the police as part of an investigation into harassment is still at large today.
Police officers searching for Lewis Wigley said the 28-year-old should not be approached.
He has ‘Lewis’ tattooed on his neck and is slim with light brown hair.
Sir Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, flagged up the rise as he published a highly critical report on a controversial part-privatisation of probation services.
From 2015 every criminal given a custodial sentence became subject to statutory supervision and rehabilitation upon release into the community.
Prior to the change, which was designed to drive down re-offending rates, convicts who had served less than one year did not have to be supervised by probation services.
The NAO's report said that, between January 2015 and September 2018, the number of offenders recalled to prison for breaching their licence conditions increased by almost half – 47 per cent – from 4,240 to 6,240.
Over the same period, the percentage of offenders recalled to custody who had received sentences of less than 12 months increased from three per cent to over a third – 36 per cent.
"Offenders serving short sentences often find it difficult to comply with licence conditions as they are more likely to have chaotic lives, with accommodation difficulties, mental health problems and alcohol and drug dependency," the report said.
In 2013, under then-justice secretary Chris Grayling, the Ministry of Justice embarked on major reforms of probation services.
Known as Transforming Rehabilitation, the scheme saw the creation of the National Probation Service to deal with high-risk cases, while remaining work was assigned to 21 community rehabilitation companies.
Sir Amyas said: "The ministry set itself up to fail in how it approached probation reforms.
"Its rushed roll-out created significant risks that it was unable to manage.
"These have had far reaching consequences.
"Not only have these failings been extremely costly for taxpayers, but we have seen the number of people on short sentences recalled to prison skyrocket."
Unison national officer Ben Priestley described the report as a ‘devastating critique of a catastrophic privatisation’.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Lewis Wigley should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 and quote incident 49 of February 20. You can also pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111.