Over 130 convicted sex offenders are due to walk free from jail halfway through their sentence while the Government continues to deliberate over legislation to replace Ulster's controversial 50% remission policy, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today.
There are currently 133 serving sex offenders who will benefit from the heavily criticised policy and serve just half their prison term because they were sentenced before the implementation of the long-awaited new legislation.
That figure will continue to increase the longer the Government takes to enforce an alternative to the archaic remission policy, which automatically frees dangerous sex offenders and violent criminals halfway through their sentence - even if they pose a threat to the public.
Statistics obtained by this paper under the Freedom of Information Act also show that 26 of the jailed sex offenders are due for early release in the next six months - an average of one a week.
The Government is unable to specify when new legislation will be brought into force, saying only that it is hoped it will be "by the end of the year".
An NIO spokeswoman said: "The Government is currently drafting legislation and it is hoped to have this on the statute books by the end of the calendar year. As with all legislation this is subject to consultation and parliamentary proceedings."
The revelations have sparked furious accusations that any delay in implementing a new policy is putting the public unnecessarily at risk.
In December, the Government bowed to public pressure and agreed to scrap the policy following a high profile Belfast Telegraph campaign calling for the abolition of 50% remission.
The Justice For Attracta campaign was launched in April last year after it emerged that Strabane pensioner Attracta Harron was brutally murdered by a high risk offender who had just been released from jail after serving half of a seven-year sentence for rape.
Even thought the authorities knew that Trevor Hamilton from Sion Mills was a danger to the public they were powerless to stop him from walking free because of the 50% remission rule.
After more than 35,000 people signed this paper's campaign, Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson announced he would scrap 50% remission in favour of a Parole Board type policy which would aim to keep dangerous offenders behind bars indefinitely until they no longer pose a threat to the public.
However, there are fears that another dangerous sex offender could slip through the net while the province waits for the strict new measures to be introduced.
The DUP's North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds said the Government needs to bring in this new policy now.
"The Government needs to get its act together," he said. " When we are talking about people's lives and the safety of the community, all necessary procedures must be put in place. The Government agreed to abolish this policy and now action must be taken to do just that."