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Open Resettlement Establishments

Volume 601: debated on Tuesday 3 November 2015

16. If he will review the criteria used to determine whether prisoners with a history of violence are placed in open resettlement establishments. (901974)

When we are considering whether any prisoner should be transferred to open conditions, our overriding concern should be the protection of the public. Transfer to open conditions is not automatic, and should always be subject to risk assessment.

I am one of 14 Members of Parliament—including you, Mr Speaker—whose constituencies contain open prisons. Some 61 murderers have gone on the run from those prisons in the past five years. The opening of a new open prison unit in Don Valley, which has been given the welcoming name of Hatfield Lakes, has prompted concern about the kind of prisoners who are transferred to such establishments. The governor of an open prison often has little prior knowledge about a transfer, and may even have no say when it comes to the suitability of prisoners who are coming into their care. Will the Minister meet me, and other interested Members, to discuss the criteria for putting people in open establishments?

I pay tribute to the right hon. Lady, who has campaigned extensively on this issue over the years, but I must say to her that the problem did not suddenly arise five years ago. There were absconders before that, which is a fact that she forgot to mention. However, I am sure that the prisons Minister will be more than happy to meet her.