Suspected criminals accused of serious crimes including rape and human trafficking are on the run after failing to turn up at court, the Tele can reveal.
An investigation showed that in some cases, people charged with violent crimes have been at large for more than a decade — with one person untraced since 2003.
The Tele obtained a list of the 15 longest-outstanding warrants for people in Tayside who have been accused of an offence, or found guilty of a crime, but who didn’t turn up for court.
One of those at large is a person accused of rape in Dundee who was released on bail in 2011, but failed to appear for a court hearing.
In Angus, one person has been on the run for 13 years, with people most commonly going missing after not paying fines — though others charged with fraud and assault have also gone off the radar.
Meanwhile, in Perth and Kinross, one person charged with having pepper spray in 2012 remains untraced, along with someone charged in the same year with people trafficking who later never turned up to court.
MSP Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservatives’ justice spokesman, said: “I think people across Tayside will be alarmed to hear that violent criminals have been on the loose for as long as 14 years.
“This raises questions about our justice system, not least whether bail should even have been an option for such a serious offence.”
Superintendent Graeme Murdoch of Tayside Division said: “Executing warrants from the courts is a core policing function and there is every expectation that we are diligent in pursuing offenders to bring them back before the court.
“Warrants are categorised and some are a higher priority meaning that we will make immediate and persistent efforts to execute the warrant. This is usually based on the seriousness of the crime or offence, the risk to communities and can also depend on which court has issued the warrant.
‘In a small number of cases, warrants can remain outstanding for long periods of time. In some cases, the offender may have returned to their home country or have otherwise travelled abroad or to a different area of the country where they have managed to evade police.
“We are required to report our actions to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.”