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House of Commons Hansard
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Custodial Treatment
01 March 2010
Volume 506
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To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people in receipt of a custodial sentence for (a) sexual offences, (b) murder and (c) offences related to terrorism are absent without authorisation from prisons. [317763]

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There are three main types of unapproved absence: (a) escapes, which involve a prisoner absenting himself from prison custody without lawful authority by overcoming a physical security restraint such as fences, locks, bolts and bars, a secure vehicle or handcuffs; (b) absconds, where a prisoner absents himself from prison custody without lawful authority and without overcoming physical security restraints (usually from open prisons); and, (c) recalls from temporary release licence following breach before being taken into police or prison custody. Additionally a small number of releases in error occur as a result of administrative error.

The following table shows a breakdown of prisoners with (a) sexual offences, (b) murder and (c) offences related to terrorism who are still absent without authorisation from prisons from 1 April 2004 until 31 March 2009.

Breakdown of prisoners by main index offence who are absent from prisons without authorisation since 1 April 2004 until 31 March 2009

Type of absence

Sexual offence

Murder

Offence related to terrorism

Escape

0

0

0

Abscond

0

2

0

Temporary release recall

0

1

0

Release in error1

0

0

0

1 Release in error data available only from 1 January 2005.

These figures have been drawn from live administrative data systems which may be amended at any time. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

There is no category of “offence related to terrorism” but we have interpreted it as referring to those convicted of offences under terrorism legislation, or those convicted of other offences (e.g. conspiracy to murder, or explosives-related offences) where the police and prosecution are satisfied that the acts related to terrorism and have prosecuted the case as such.