London, Jan 24 (UNI) In yet another attempt to ease pressure on overcrowded jails in the UK, criminals-- either on remand or finishing their sentences-- were being treated to a 250-pound-a-night bed and breakfast at private homes in residential areas.
The Ministry of Justice has spent 2.39 million pounds as rent for 339 offenders.
However, residents in areas where the suspects and former prisoners are housed have not been informed of the background of their new neighbours.
Suspects are jailed if the courts are not happy that they have a ''stable home address'' and may abscond. The same reason also prevents a convicted criminal from being freed with an electronic tag up to four and a half months early, under the Home Detention Curfew scheme, Daily Mail reported.
The Government was managing these private bail houses jointly with ClearSprings-- the firm, which also provides premises to asylum seekers.
They provide staff to look after the offender, and therefore offer a ''stable'' address.
But during the first six months, the vast majority of the properties were not used as courts showed reluctance to grant the special bail over fears the criminals might re-offend.
As a result, the average nightly bill was a staggering 250 pounds. If they had been kept in jail, the bill would have been only 100 pounds.
The Ministry of Justice has asked the probation staff to make it a ''top priority'' to persuade the courts to use ClearSprings.
Up to five suspects or convicts can live in each property, which are located in more than 150 towns and cities.
UNI XC YA RS1225