The figure, revealed yesterday in the Scottish Parole Board’s annual report, is up almost a third on last year’s figure of 103 and prompted renewed calls from opposition parties to end early release.

The board was asked to consider the cases of 212 criminals who were freed automatically after serving two-thirds of their sentence and whose behaviour was giving “rise for concern”.

Opposition parties warned Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill the numbers proved he had to end his “soft-touch” approach to sentencing.

Tory MSP John Lamont said: “The Scottish Conservatives have been calling for an end to early release for over a decade but the SNP, Labour and the LibDems have time and again voted to keep early release.

“We do not want our convicts to be in the community, free to strike again. We must restore honesty in sentencing and put an end to soft-touch Scotland.”

Labour’s James Kelly said the report should be a “wake-up call” to the Scottish Government.

“It undermines faith in the justice system when prisoners are released before the end of their sentence and go on to commit new crimes,” he said. “The public quite rightly want to see an end to automatic early release.”

LibDem spokesman Robert Brown said: “This report indicates that proper assessment and monitoring by the Parole Board is more successful than the automatic early release system.

“The Scottish Government needs to take this on board ­during its consideration of changes in this area.”

The board considered a total of 627 parole cases last year involving prisoners serving four years or more, of whom 227 were recommended for parole.

Those given parole included 52 prisoners serving life sentences from 281 lifers who were considered. Twelve prisoners were given parole then referred back for the Parole Board to consider returning them to jail.

Board chairman Sandy ­Cameron said: “This follows the pattern of previous years and indicates that, in the main, our decisions to grant parole are sound in that it is a small number of those cases which give cause for concern.

“Whereas those offenders who have been causing concern in custody to the extent that they are not granted parole seem to be much more likely to give cause for concern after being returned to the community.”

Mr MacAskill said opposition parties’ attacks on unconditional automatic early release were “posturing”.

He said: “The simple reality is the Tories introduced unconditional automatic early release in the 1990s, Labour maintained the system and the SNP are in the process of abolishing it.

“Rather than spending their time posturing, opposition politicians would better serve the victims of crime if they backed our Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill and voted for an end to the system of unconditional automatic early release.”

In October last year, sex offender Jason Mulheron was out of prison on licence when he attacked a woman on Glasgow’s south side. He was originally charged with attempted rape but later admitted a reduced charged of repeatedly threatening to kill and rape her, telling her he had a knife, repeatedly punching her, sexually assaulting her with intent to rape and robbing her.

In the same month, drug addict Ronald Stewart was jailed for a series of knife raids in and around Glasgow with the first offence committed three months after he was released on licence from an eight-year sentence.