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One person a week killed by criminal on probation, as ex-Victims Commissioner slams failure to protect public's safety

25 June 2024, 08:23 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 09:24

Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall both committed murders while on probation
Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall both committed murders while on probation. Picture: Police
Aggie Chambré

By Aggie Chambré

One person is killed every week by a criminal already on probation, LBC can reveal.

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Since 2010, more than 750 murders have been committed by convicted criminals while on probation, the equivalent of one a week.

The new research shows that 762 Serious Further Offences of murder were carried out between 2010 and 2022.

Nearly 20 of the murders were committed by offenders serving life sentences.  

Serious Further Offences are violent crimes committed by people under probation supervision or who have very recently been under supervision.

Former Victims Commissioner Dame Vera Baird said the figures were “appalling” and called for a national review into the probation service.

One person killed every week by criminal already on probation

“The probation service is pretty directionless at present,” she told LBC. 

“The level of killing is just appalling. These are people who are recognised as dangerous criminals.” 

She said the criminals should have “a completely all round supervision and support service which keeps an eye on them day and night”. Instead, she said “the public is not guaranteed the safety that it should have”. 

In March of this year, the Chief Inspector of probation Martin Jones said there were "serious failings" in the probation supervision after Joshua Jacques killed his girlfriend Samantha Drummonds and her family while on probation in 2022. 

Jordan McSweeney and Damien Bendall were also under the supervision of probation services for a variety of previous offences when they committed crimes.

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McSweeney murdered Zara Aleena in East London, while Damien Bendall murdered four people, including three children. 

The Serious Further Offence review into Bendall noted that failures by supervising managers meant a failure to amend his "medium risk of serious harm" to "high risk of serious harm". 

In response to the figures, Alex Chalk, Justice Secretary said: “Under the Conservatives reoffending rates have fallen from 31 per cent to 25 per cent since 2010 and an extra £155 million per year is being invested in the Probation Service to recruit more staff and intensify supervision of criminals.

“We are also harnessing the latest technology to tag a record number of individuals, monitoring offenders’ movements and enforcing tough unpaid work orders to drive down reoffending and repay criminals’ debt to society.

“Under Labour, reoffending rates were higher and all those on sentences of less than 12 months roamed free without probation supervision, showing Labour will never take the tough decisions to keep our communities safe.”

The probation service has been approached for comment.

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