Unlawfully at Large Male Offenders: Rates and Types of Revocation

Key Words

unlawfully at large, revocation, re-offence, male offenders


Offenders unlawfully at large (UAL) cause concern for the Canadian public and present a challenge for correctional jurisdictions. There is always the fear that these men may do violence in the community.

A recent report (Dunbar, in review) on offenders who go UALFootnote 1 found that just under two-thirds of UAL offenders had their release revoked, most without offence. There was no discussion, however, of the types of new offences committed by UAL offenders and/or how the rates of revocation of UAL offenders differ from those of offenders who do not go UAL. 

What we did

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal male offenders who were conditionally released between April 1st, 2006 and March 31st, 2009 and for whom a suspension warrant for going UAL had been issued were included in the current study. UAL offenders were matched to an offender who had not gone UAL on factors such as age at release, drug use history, and employment history.

UAL and non-UAL offenders were then contrasted on their rates of revocation with and without offence within a year of release.  Results were very similar for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal offenders; therefore, the two groups were collapsed.

What we found

UAL offenders had significantly more revocations without offence than their non-UAL counterparts (42% as compared to 29%), presumably due in large part to breaching reporting conditions. 

UAL offenders also had more revocations with offence (23% as compared to 14%).  However, follow-up analyses revealed that these differences were due to UAL offenders’ higher rates of involvement in relatively minor non-violent offences (specifically, those categorized as “other”, including driving offences, mischief, and causing a disturbance), and in administration of justice offences.  This latter finding is not surprising given that the administration of justice category includes the offence of going UAL.

UAL and non-UAL offenders were equally likely to return for violent, sex, or drug offences.

What it means

UAL offenders had significantly more revocations with and without offence than those who did not go UAL. However, UAL offenders’ greater rates of return to custody were attributable solely to revocations without offence (presumably due in large part to breaching reporting conditions) and non-violent offences, including going UAL.

These findings suggest that offenders who go UAL do not pose a greater risk to the public in terms of violent, sexual, or drug-related offences than do offenders who do not go UAL.


Dunbar, L. (in review). Profile of federal offenders who go unlawfully at large from their conditional release. Research Report.  Ottawa, ON: Correctional Service of Canada.

Prepared by: Geoffrey Barnum

For more information

Research Branch
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Footnote 1

Offenders were categorized as UAL based on the issuing of a relevant warrant.  Cancelling of warrants and suspensions, failure to execute a warrant when an offender could not be found (which occurs relatively infrequently; see Dunbar, in review), and discretion in whether or not to charge offenders who go UAL with this offence contribute to explaining why most offenders in the UAL category were not ultimately charged with this offence.

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