10/30/2012 20:07 EDT | Updated 12/30/2012 05:12 EST

Fewer prisoners escaping federal custody

The number of federal inmates who have successfully pulled off escapes has dropped significantly in the last two years.

Figures from Corrections Canada obtained by CBC News Network’s Power & Politics through access to information show there were a total of 109 escapes in the last five years, but the annual figures have decreased from 29 five years ago to 15 in the last fiscal year.

Here are the numbers of escaped prisoners:

- 2007-08: 29

- 2008-09: 22

- 2009-10: 29

- 2010-11: 14

- 2011-12: 15

Although numbers vary from year to year, the correctional service sees the downward trend as a positive one.

“Over the last two to three years, efforts to promote dynamic security, positive staff/offender interactions, quality risk assessments and good case management practices appear to be having a positive impact on the number of escapes,” spokeswoman Lori Pothier told CBC News. “CSC continues to monitor and evaluate trends in this area.”

Most successful escapes are from minimum security facilities, where the perimeter is defined but not directly controlled with barbed-wire fences or other physical measures. Inmates who escaped in 2010-2011 represented less than 0.1% of the inmate population, Pothier said.

Corrections Canada reviews the circumstances surrounding all escapes and takes action where necessary, she added.

Julie Carmichael, spokeswoman for Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews, said the government is committed to a “correctional system that actually corrects criminal behaviour” and credited the efforts of front-line staff for the decline in escapes.

“Correctional officers do an excellent job in maintaining public safety, which is evident by the success shown in the decrease of escapes,” she said.

Corrections Canada defines an escape as the “unlawful departure of an inmate from the confines or property of an institution, excluding community correctional centres.”

Pothier says the correctional service regularly assesses offenders to ensure they are placed in the appropriate security level . They have also strengthened partnerships with law enforcement agencies to share information that helps recapture escapees.

“If an offender escapes, CSC actively works with police in an effort to recapture the offender as quickly as possible,” she said.