Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Seventy criminals including three murderers have absconded from an open prison this year, the British Home Office has said

BBC News:

Of the 70 who fled Ford Open Prison in West Sussex, 29 are still at large. Among those are a murderer serving a life sentence and drug dealers.

They were assessed as "low risk" to the public, according to the Home Office.

Home Secretary John Reid said serious offenders were being rehabilitated before being returned to the community. "It's to protect the public," he said.

The figures were given in a parliamentary answer to the shadow home affairs minister, Nick Herbert, who described the situation as a "total disgrace".

Mr Herbert, whose constituency includes Ford Prison, said: "Not only have 70 prisoners absconded from Ford this year already, but over a third of them have not been recaptured and many should never have been in an open prison, having committed the most serious offences, including murder."

The inmates absconded between 1 January and 16 October - 13 of them went missing in March, 15 in May, and 11 escaped in September.

Some had committed offences such as burglary, driving while disqualified and possession of a false passport.

Earlier Ford in Arundel was at the centre of controversy after it emerged 11 foreign national offenders had "simply walked out" during May.

Dr Reid immediately ordered another 141 foreign inmates to be taken to different locations over fears more could abscond.

A Home Office spokeswoman could not confirm how many of those who had escaped from the prison were foreign nationals, adding it was never possible to "guarantee" that inmates would not abscond from an open prison.

Three murderers flee open prison

Murderers among open prison absconders

Murderers among prisoners absconded from open prison

Reid's U-turn as foreign prisoners allowed back to open jail where 11 absconded

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