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Prisoner Escapes

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the most recent incidence of absconding from HM Prison Sudbury by a prisoner convicted of murder took place; and what steps he is taking to reduce the number of such incidents. (290685)

The most recent incident of absconding from Sudbury by a prisoner convicted of murder was on 21 September 2007. The prisoner was recaptured on 25 September 2007.

Sudbury continues to work closely with Derbyshire police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in responding to all instances of individuals absconding from the prison and ensuring that whenever an absconder is arrested, he is brought to court and charged. The National Offender Management Service’s (NOMS) Police Advisors and the Association of Chief Police Officers are discussing the implementation of a national agreement for referring absconders for prosecution which would see the approach taken at Sudbury extended throughout the estate.

Absconds levels are monitored closely by NOMS. The Director General and Chief Operating Officer review abscond rates regularly. The risk assessment process for open conditions is stringent—and becoming more sophisticated at assessing risk. As a result, abscond rates are falling.

Individual open prison governors are responsible for implementing local security strategies to combat absconds. Open prisons operate intelligence systems to try and spot those who might be planning to abscond; prisoners are screened and those who are at significant risk of absconding are sent back to closed conditions; in many areas the prison, police and CPS are working together to prosecute absconders to provide a deterrent to others who may be thinking of doing the same.

All absconds are reported immediately to the police who will take steps to apprehend the prisoner. Re-captured absconders will be returned to a more secure closed prison where they face either a criminal prosecution for escaping or an internal adjudication in prison in front of a visiting judge. In both cases they can receive additional time in prison on top of their existing sentence.