HMP Kirkham – successful jail but should address prisoners’ perception of negative treatment by staff

HMP Kirkham, an open prison in Lancashire holding more than 600 men drawing close to the end of long sentences, nearly half for drugs offences, was found by inspectors to be a safe and successful prison.

There was little violence or bullying among prisoners, including 117 classed as presenting a high risk of harm and a fifth of whom were linked to organised crime gangs. Use of force by staff was rare. Inspectors noted that the prison was trying to create a “motivational and incentivising” culture.

However, many prisoners said they felt victimised by rude and abrupt staff. Their “very negative” perceptions about the attitude of some staff were at variance with the survey of staff, 72% of whom thought staff-prisoner relationships were good.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: “There was sufficient evidence, in our view, to suggest the prisoners may have had a point, and that the approach of some, certainly too many, staff was unsupportive of the ethos to which the prison aspired. Addressing this shortcoming in the quality of staff-prisoner relationships was the key priority to emerge from this inspection.”

The grounds at Kirkham were immaculate, with one prisoner telling inspectors the grounds had “a pacifying effect on previously violent prisoners.”

Prisoners were never locked in their rooms and had access to reasonably good education and training. The prison made extensive use of release on temporary licence (ROTL). Six prisoners had absconded from HMP Kirkham in the six months leading up to the inspection in June and July 2018, compared to 13 in the first six months of 2017. Breaches of ROTL had also fallen in recent months.

Drug misuse was a serious problem for the prison and had worsened since the previous inspection in 2013. Most positive tests were for cannabis (51%) and cocaine (25%). There had been no positive tests for new psychoactive substances (NPS), synthetic drugs which have caused huge problems in other jails.

Outcomes in the prison’s core function of resettlement were judged to be reasonably good overall, although more needed to be done to ensure greater continuity, consistency and coherence in the work.

Mr Clarke said:

“Kirkham continues to be an effective open resettlement prison. Good outcomes were evident and this was reflected in a good report. A cautionary note would be that the prison needed to guard against complacency. Offender management provision required some new and joined-up thinking and, in our view, staff needed to ensure they were fully committed to the prison’s values and purpose.”

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service, said:

“As the Chief Inspector makes clear, Kirkham is a safe prison which achieves good outcomes and supports effective rehabilitation. The work to assist prisoners into employment on release has been particularly impressive. Respect for prisoners was rated “reasonably good”, but we are fully committed to delivering a positive rehabilitative culture and the Governor has started consultation with staff and prisoner groups to improve relationships.”

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook described the report as ‘honest and positive.”

Mr Leech said: “Having served time in a number of open prisons the negative attitude of some staff is always the main problem in such places, forever threatening a return to closed conditions for the slightest misdemeanour.

“Governors need to address this and not, as in Kirkham, overlook it.

“It leads to increases in absconds and ROTL failures – prisoners are not in custody to be threatened by staff who in many cases have no place in a modern prison system.”

HMP Leyhill: A Safe & Decent open Prison, But Prisoners Are Not Being Discharged By A Lack of Approved Premises

leyhill

HMP Leyhill was a safe and decent prison which helped to prepare prisoners for release, said Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons – but where he also found untrained, unsupervised, prisoners were expected to mentor other prisoners, where there were problems with the release on temporary licence system (ROTL) and where a lack of approved premises was delaying the release of prisoners cleared for discharge by the Parole Board.

Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the open prison in Gloucestershire.

HMP Leyhill currently holds around 500 men. A major element of its role is the preparation of many men being held there for release back into the community. Given the serious nature of the offences committed by some of the men, the long sentences they have served and the changing nature of the prison population, this is a complex and challenging task. Since its last inspection in 2012, the population of the prison had changed. In 2012, sex offenders accounted for about 20% of the prisoners at Leyhill. On this more recent inspection, it was around 60%.

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

  • violent incidents were rare and low-level victimisation, including that directed towards sex offenders, was managed well;
  • the number of self-harm incidents was very low and prisoners at risk of self-harm were supported well;
  • security was proportionate and the number of absconds had reduced year on year;
  • the prison was proactively addressing the supply and demand of illicit drugs and the use of new psychoactive substances had declined;
  • staff-prisoner relationships were good;
  • the management of learning and skills was good and the quality of teaching and learning was outstanding;
  • public protection measures were mostly sound and release on temporary licence (ROTL) assessments were high quality; and
  • the offender management unit was appropriately focused on reducing risk and the quality of risk (OASys) assessments was good.

However, inspectors were concerned to find that:

 

  • although inspectors commended the use of prisoners as orderlies, mentors and advice workers, they needed to be properly trained and supervised;
  • access to ROTL was problematic and too few placements were available; and
  • the lack of approved premises delayed the release of some men who had been deemed ready for release by the Parole Board.

 

Peter Clarke said:

“HMP Leyhill was a safe and decent prison. The high standards inspectors saw in 2012 had not only been maintained, but improved upon. The outcome of this inspection is a credit to all of the staff at Leyhill and the way they have responded to the energetic and committed leadership given by the senior management of the prison.”

 

Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

‘I am pleased that the excellent work being undertaken at Leyhill has been recognised in this report.

“The quality of skills training, work and education are impressive, providing prisoners with the skills they need to secure new jobs and prevent re-offending on release.

“The Governor and her staff can be very proud of the quality of work they are doing on behalf of the public. They will use the recommendations in this report to further improve the prison.”

 

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales said: “Overall this is a very positive report but, just like NHS bed blocking, the prison is also being required to detain people beyond the time when they are cleared for release due to a shortage of approved premises places.

“At a time when we have serious problems in our prison system with overcrowding, this needs to be a top priority for the Ministry of Justice”

A copy of the full report, published on 25 January, can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

HMP Standford Hill: A much improved resettlement prison

standfordhillMP Standford Hill was well led and had made significant progress, said Nick Hardwick, Chief Inspector of Prisons. Today he published the report of an unannounced inspection of the open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent.

HMP Standford Hill was previously managed as part of a cluster of Isle of Sheppey prisons but while some services continue to be shared, the prison is now independent and has its own governor. At the time of its inspection, the prison held 456 adult men, nearly all of whom were coming to the end of a long prison sentence or nearing the expiry of a life sentence tariff. The number of prisoners with indeterminate sentences for public protection had increased significantly since the last inspection and nearly all these men were now well beyond their tariff expiry date. At its previous inspection in December 2011, inspectors found that despite some good work, resettlement work was fragmented and inconsistent. This inspection found a much improved prison where preparing men for release and resettling them back into the community was at the core of nearly everything that happened.

 

Inspectors were pleased to find that:

 

  • prisoners felt safe, early days support on arrival was good, levels of violence were low and arrangements to manage poor behaviour, when it happened, were strong;
  • prisoners clearly felt they had a personal investment in following the prison’s rules and something important to lose if they transgressed;
  • security arrangements were appropriate to an open prison and robust, while supporting resettlement work;
  • the challenges with illicit drugs and alcohol were well managed, which was a significant achievement given the large number of men working out of the prison each day;
  • the living environment was clean and decent;
  • the quality of relationships between staff and prisoners had improved overall, and some staff were excellent;
  • learning and skills provision was very good and all prisoners were occupied in some good education and work places within the prison, while over half of prisoners benefited from placements in the community;
  • resettlement services had improved and the processes to risk assess release on temporary licence (ROTL) were suitably robust and reflected recent improvements to ROTL assessment rules; and
  • offender management work was mostly good, as was support in the resettlement pathways.

 

However, inspectors found that more work needed to be done to understand the concerns of some black and minority ethnic and Muslim prisoners and to look at why their outcomes in some areas were poorer than those of white prisoners.

 

Nick Hardwick said:

 

“Standford Hill had made significant progress since our last inspection against all of our healthy prison tests, most notably in putting resettlement work at the heart of the prison. The prison was very well led, and we had confidence that it would continue to progress.”
Michael Spurr, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, said:

 

“This report highlights the excellent work being done at Standford Hill to get prisoners ready for life on the outside.

“The Governor and her staff deserve huge credit for the quality of work and training provided both inside the prison and on placements in the community.

“As the Chief Inspector makes clear the prison is maintaining a clear and proper focus on public protection whilst providing excellent rehabilitation opportunities which will reduce reoffending and cut crime.”

 

A copy of the full report can be found on the HM Inspectorate of Prisons website at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons

 

Mother fears for safety in open Prison move for Noye

noyeThe Suffolk mother of Kenneth Noye’s road rage victim has said she fears for her own safety if the killer is moved to an open prison – fears which commentators say the Ministry of Justice must ignore.

Notorious gangster Noye could be back on Britain’s streets in months after the ruling by the Parole Board.

The 68 year-old is serving a life sentence for stabbing to death electrician Stephen Cameron, 21, in a road rage attack on the M25 in Kent in 1996.

Stephen’s mother Toni said she and her husband Ken are “devastated” at the decision, which if approved would mean Noye moves to a prison where he could be given home leave, trips out and even get a job.

She said: “We are devastated. He should stay in prison, he has murdered somebody. Where’s the justice?

“I wouldn’t feel safe. I don’t trust him. I wouldn’t trust him one iota. A leopard doesn’t change his spots.

“He left our son dying in the road and absconded to Spain the next day like he didn’t have a care in the world. He didn’t care about anybody apart from himself.”

Mrs Cameron, who lives in Lowestoft, said she is appalled that her son has been robbed of his life while his killer could be free to walk the streets again.

She said: “Our son hasn’t got a life, we have lost our lives – our family has all been devastated.

“We have been denied grandchildren, a marriage. We had two foster grandchildren who were with us that day and they’ve never got over it.”

Two years before killing Stephen, Noye had been released from prison for handling bullion stolen in the Brink’s-Mat robbery.

He stabbed to death police officer John Fordham in January 1985, but was acquitted at trial after claiming he was acting in self-defence.

After killing Stephen he went on the run and was arrested in Spain two years later in 1998. In 2000 he was jailed for life with a minimum tariff of 16 years.

Mrs Cameron said “life should mean life” and urged ministers to block the Parole Board’s recommendation.

She said: “Why do they think all of a sudden that he is Mr goody two-shoes? So he is going to change all of a sudden?

“He will be the model prisoner, he’s got a life of luxury in there.

“I think this country’s justice system isn’t good enough.

“If he is in an open prison he could abscond again – like he did when he murdered our son. He went to Spain for two years, showed no remorse, left him lying in the gutter dying.

“We have been fighting in Stephen’s corner for justice, but this is not justice. He was given a life sentence with a 16-year tariff, but to me life should mean life, end of. Why should he come out and enjoy the rest of his life?”

The family is planning to write to Justice Secretary Michael Gove to urge him to block the move to an open prison.

Mark Leech, editor of The Prisons Handbook for England and Wales, and Converse the monthly national newspaper for prisoners said Ministers could not lawfully intervene.

Mr Leech said: “Moving a lifer to an open prison is a matter for the Prison Service, it is they and not the Parole Board who decide what Category a particular prisoner should possess, and the prison in which he should be detained.

“However once the Parole Board has cleared the lifer’s path to an open prison it would be difficult for the Prison Service to ignore that, knowing it would inevitably lead to long costly legal proceedings when Kenneth Noye challenged it, as he certainly would, and rightly do so.

“The fears of victims are a consideration but they are not a basis for removing the prisoner’s right to progress towards the release the sentencing court clearly envisaged when they set his tariff at 16 years.”

open Prison Absconder Policy Upheld On Appeal

Michael Wheatley
Michael Wheatley

A High Court ruling that a policy of excluding prisoners with a history of absconding from being transferred to more lenient open conditions is unlawful has been overturned.

The Government’s policy was introduced following high-profile media reports last year of prisoners with a history of violence absconding while on release on temporary licence (ROTL) from open prison.

Among them was Michael Wheatley, an armed robber nicknamed the Skull Cracker.

In May last year, the then justice secretary Chris Grayling publicly announced that the Government was ”tearing up the system as it exists at the moment” and introduced his absconder policy.

But in April this year two senior judges at London’s High Court ruled that excluding transfers – save in exceptional circumstances – for prisoners with a history of absconding, escape or “serious ROTL failure” was inconsistent with his own directions to the Parole Board.

The long-standing directions state that ”a phased release” from closed to open prison is necessary for most inmates serving indeterminate sentences ”to test the prisoner’s readiness for release into the community”.

After their decision was announced at the High Court, Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Mitting gave the Justice Secretary permission to challenge the ruling.

Today, three judges at the Court of Appeal in London allowed the Government’s appeal.

Lord Justice Sales, announcing the court’s unanimous decision, said: “My conclusion … the various challenges to the lawfulness of the absconder policy must fail.”

Killer, Rapist & Arsonist among 77 who have never recaptured

RepRun-Logo

A killer, a rapist on a life sentence and an arsonist who may never be released from prison are among the 77 prisoners who have escaped in the last ten years without being recaptured, it has been revealed.

International drugs traffickers and firearms owners sentenced to life are also among the absconded prisoners who escaped between April 2004 and March 2014 and remain unlawfully at large, the Ministry of Justice data showed.

Justice Minister Simon Hughes, who released the list, said the number of escapes has reduced by 80% over the last ten years.

Mr Hughes said he was unable to release the names of the escaped prisoners without first performing checks to make sure that disclosure would not place anyone in danger and to ensure that any victim has already been informed of both the abscond and release of the name.

He said checks also needed to be carried out to make sure releasing names would not jeopardise police recapture operations.

Among the most serious offenders on the list are a rapist on a life sentence, an arsonist with an indeterminate sentence for public protection (ISPP), an offender jailed on an ISPP for possessing a firearm with intent, and an offender jailed for five years for manslaughter.

There were also four offenders who had sentences lasting at least a decade for import and export of drugs.

The list also includes a robber on an ISPP and a robber on a life sentence.

Mr Hughes released the data in response to a written parliamentary question from Tory Philip Davies (Shipley).

The list released is shown below:

:: Index offence and sentence length of absconders unlawfully at large from April 2004 to March 2014, as at 30 September 2014:

:: Aggravated burglary – 4 years 6 months

:: Arson – Indeterminate sentence for public protection

:: Assisting illegal immigrants – 54 months

:: Assisting illegal immigrants – 6 years

:: Blackmail – 3 years

:: Burglary – 18 months

:: Burglary – 6 months

:: Burglary – 112 days

:: Burglary – 3 years

:: Burglary – 32 months

:: Burglary – 2 years 6 months

:: Conspiracy to commit burglary – 3 years 3 months

:: Conspiracy to commit burglary – 64 months

:: Conspiracy to commit theft – 3 years 6 months

:: Conspiracy to commit theft – 3 years

:: Conspiracy to commit theft – 2 years

:: Conspiracy to defraud – 7 years

:: Conspiracy to defraud – 6 years

:: Conspiracy to import drugs – 8 years

:: Conspiracy to supply drug – 40 months

:: Conspiracy to supply drugs – 6 years

:: Contempt of court – 15 months

:: Customs evasion (drugs related) – 7 years

:: Customs evasion (drugs related) – 8 years

:: Death by reckless driving – 4 years

:: Deception – 30 months

:: Deception – 9 months

:: Deception – 26 months

:: Deception – 12 – months

:: Deception – 30 months

:: Excess alcohol – 112 days

:: False instruments – 6 months

:: False instruments – 12 months

:: False instruments – 18 months

:: Fines – 6 months

:: Fraud – 5 years

:: Fraud – detainee

:: GBH – 2 years

:: GBH – 8 years

:: Going equipped to cheat – 2 years

:: Going equipped to cheat – 2 years

:: Going equipped to steal – 6 months

:: Import/export drug – 19 years

:: Import/export drug – 9 years

:: Import/export drug – 12 years

:: Import/export drug – 7 years

:: Import/export drug – 12 years

:: Import/export drug – 10 years

:: Import/export drug – 5 years

:: Manslaughter – 5 years

:: Possess drugs with intent – 6 years

:: Possess drugs with intent – 3 years 6 months

:: Possess drugs with intent – 6 years

:: Possess drugs with intent – 7 years

:: Possess drugs with intent – 3 years

:: Possess firearm with intent – 78 months

:: Possess firearm with intent – Life

:: Possess firearm with intent – Life

:: Possess firearm with intent – Indeterminate sentence for public protection

:: Possess offensive weapon – 23 months

:: Possess offensive weapon – 5 years

:: Rape – Life

:: Robbery – Life

:: Robbery – Indeterminate sentence for public protection

:: Robbery – 6 years

:: Robbery – 9 years

:: Robbery – 3 years

:: Robbery – Indeterminate sentence for public protection

:: Supplying drugs – 3 years

:: Supplying drugs – 42 months

:: Theft – 8 months

:: Theft – 15 months

:: Theft – unknown

:: Theft – 4 years

:: Theft – 2 years

:: Trespass with intent – 15 months

:: Wounding with intent – 6 years 8 months

Inmates in open prisons technically cannot “escape” because they are able to come and go so are recorded as absconding if they fail to meet the terms of their sentence.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said:â?¬ “Keeping the public safe is our priority and we have made major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.

“Absconds have reached record lows under this Government – down 80% over the last 10 years – but each and every incident is taken seriously, with the police contacted as a matter of urgency.

“open prisons and temporary licence are an important tool in rehabilitating long term offenders but not at the expense of public safety.”

89 Prisoners on the run from Ford Prison – but its getting better

ford

Nearly 90 prisoners are on the run from an open jail, including some who have been missing for years, it has been revealed  – but one prisons expert says the problem is getting better not worse.

HMP Ford near Arundel, West Sussex, with some other open jails, has been at the centre of a number of high-profile cases recently.

This week it emerged that a public appeal by Sussex Police to help trace murderer Robert Donovan, 57, had only been made four years after he walked out from Ford.

The disclosure that 89 Ford inmates are at large comes as it emerged that violent robber Simon Rhodes-Butler, 37, handed himself into police last night after fleeing from the jail last month.

And in another case, it was revealed last night that an armed robber serving a life sentence has become the latest criminal to go on the run from HMP Ford.

David Blood, 48, who police said may pose a threat to the public, absconded from the Category D prison some time between 8.30am and 1pm yesterday.

It is thought to be the second time he has absconded from an open prison after going missing from HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire in April 2012.

Local Conservative MP, Nick Gibb, has raised concern at the number of inmates convicted of serious offences going missing from HMP Ford.

Mr Gibb, the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said: “I’m worried about how prisoners are chosen to be sent to Ford open prison, and that too many are absconding.

“The theory is that these are prisoners who are coming to the end of their sentences and therefore should no longer be at risk of absconding.

“The risk assessment of prisoners who are being sent to Ford open prison is clearly not vigorous enough.”

Sussex Police said the average number of prisoners who have absconded from HMP Ford in recent years stands at 23 annually, but that currently 89 are at large.

Of those 89 still missing, eight have convictions for violence.

Superintendent Lawrence Hobbs, of Sussex Police, said: “I want to reassure people that we recognised some time ago that our processes needed improving.

“We have taken some really positive action and have a team working on this issue.

“We are confident that in the main the risk to the public is low, as that’s why they were in an open prison.

“Of the 89 outstanding, only eight have convictions for violence and we are prioritising our efforts to trace and arrest them.

“We value the support of the media and the public in helping us to find these absconders and we are absolutely determined to find all those still at large.”

Mr Hobbs added: “I must stress that we do not pro-actively seek the help of the public or the media on every occasion that a prisoner absconds.

“We consider each case individually, taking into account the risk the prisoner poses to the public and the likelihood of them re-offending.

“If we believe people need to be told about someone, or we have information that an absconder could be in a particular area, we would make an appeal.”

The Ministry of Justice said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has ordered major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.

It was the case of “Skullcracker” Michael Wheatley which prompted ministers to launch a major review of the case, including a broader assessment of the release on temporary licence (ROTL) process.

He was jailed for life for a raid on a building society while on the run from HMP Standford Hill in Kent, the second time he has been jailed for holding up the same branch.

Most recent Ministry of Justice figures show there were 1,242 indeterminate sentenced prisoners – that is, those serving life and imprisonment for public protection sentences (IPP) – as at December 31 last year. This includes 643 lifers and 599 IPP inmates in open prisons.

Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisons in England and Wales said the focus on a few recent cases masks the reality of an improving situation.

Mr Leech said: “In 2003 over 1300 prisoners absconded, that fell to just over 500 in 2008 and last year it fell again to 204, so the facts reveal an improving not deteriorating situation.

“Prisoners will always abscond from open prisons, it’s a fact of prison life because situations change daily in the lives of individual prisoners – all that the prison service can do is ensure those who are sent to open prisons represent the lowest form of risk to the public, and when prisoners do abscond much more needs to be done to advertise their disappearance.”

Grayling orders absconders to be named

grendon springhill

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said there will be “no nonsense” over the naming of on-the-run criminals whose identities had been kept secret by Government officials.

Thirteen out of 18 missing convicts, whose identities had been withheld because Government officials believed it would be “unfair” to publish them, have now been named.

Mr Grayling stated that data protection laws will not be used to protect them, arguing: ” They are wanted men and should be treated as such.

“That’s why on my watch we will not hold back their names, unless the police ask us not to for operational reasons.”

It comes after a Freedom of Information request by the Daily Mail to release the identities of missing prisoners had been rejected by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) – without considering whether it would be in the public interest to release the information.

The request was made after armed robbed Michael Wheatley – known as “skull cracker” – absconded while on temporary release from an open prison three weeks ago.

Rapist Robert Jones, arsonist Shied Riasat, burglars Viorel Avadanii and Steven Fortnam and robbers Sean Morrisey, Cesk Hanja and Islam Aslam are among 13 names which have now been published, the Daily Mail reports.

Andrew Akuffo, who was serving life for wounding with intent, drugs and firearms offences, Michael Collinson who was given almost seven years for wounding with intent, and Tom Zolynski, a carer who stole £10,000 from a frail, elderly man, are also at large.

The other three are fraudster Ismail Hasko, drink driver John Wilson and drug dealer Leacroft Wallace.

The Mail notes that of the five names being withheld, two have been recaptured and face criminal charges while police have asked for three more to remain classified on “operational” grounds.

Mr Grayling said: “We take any abscondings very seriously, reporting it to the police immediately. The police catch most of them quickly.

“Even so, I think the rules in open prisons have been too lax and I am tightening them.

“There’ll be more stringent risk assessments, and anyone who absconds will get a longer sentence and will be banned from going back to an open prison.

“From the end of this year, we’ll also use GPS tags to monitor where they are.”

He also suggested the number of people absconding from open prisons is a “small fraction” of what it was ten years ago.

The fact that 18 prisoners had absconded since May 2010 and not returned to custody was originally released in a parliamentary answer given to Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan on April 1 by Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright.

Wheatley – who fled Standford Hill open prison on May 3 – was been arrested along with another man in east London earlier this month.

Kent Police said Wheatley, 55, and another man aged 53 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit armed robbery in Tower Hamlets. He was also arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large.

Wheatley, who earned his nickname after pistol-whipping victims, had gone on the run twice in the past and each time staged a series of violent robberies before being caught and re-jailed.

Prisoner recaptured – but more may abscond now says prison expert

Thorn Cross open Prison
Thorn Cross open Prison

One of two inmates who absconded from an open prison has been found – but the public shoud not be surprised now if more absconds happen in the coming week..

Anthony Peloe, 43, who was serving an indeterminate sentence for possessing firearms with intent to cause harm, was detained last night and is now in custody, Cheshire Police said.

Peloe went missing from Thorn Cross open prison in Warrington at 10.30am on Tuesday.

A second man, convicted robber John Arnold, 30, who absconded with him, remains at large and police are urgently appealing for information on his whereabouts.

He is described as white, about 5ft 11in and slim. He has brown hair and brown eyes and may be wearing green prison-issue trousers.

It comes as two other men who absconded from a different open prison on Monday were also arrested yesterday.

Damien Burns, 39, and Dean Jackson, 27, went missing from category D Hatfield Prison, near Doncaster.

Burns, who was convicted in 2007 and was serving an indeterminate sentence for a knifepoint robbery, was arrested yesterday in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, while Jackson, on remand awaiting sentencing for a theft-related matter, was detained in Durham.

The disappearances are the latest in a series of incidents in recent weeks in which inmates have absconded from low-security prisons.

Arnold Pickering, who stabbed a blind man to death, was arrested earlier this week after going on the run from the category C Kennet prison in Merseyside on Saturday.

Another inmate, swastika-tattooed Thomas Moffett, 51, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for a number of robberies, also failed to return but was later arrested for being unlawfully at large.

Two weeks ago convicted armed robber Michael Wheatley absconded from Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent while on temporary release, during which time he is alleged to have robbed a bank in Surrey.

He will appear at Guildford Crown Court on May 29 charged with robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and being unlawfully at large.

Following recent escapes Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has promised major changes to the open prison estate and the release on temporary licence (ROTL) scheme, causing one prisons expert to accuse him of scaring prisoners into escapes.

Mark Leech, editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said: “The ROTL and open prison system have served us well for half a century and we do not need panicking politicians to make announcements of wide scale change which could incite absconds instead of reducing them.

“Chris Grayling should defend the ROTL and open prison systems, not drop his bottle when a couple of prisoners fail to live up to the trust placed in them – and two of the recent absconds were not even in the open prison estate at all.

“Long term prisoners need to be tested before being let out of the gate for good, some will fail those tests, that’s inevitable, ROTL is not an exact science, but each one which fails should be seen as a success of the system, and not proof of its failure.”

 

 

Ministry of Justice: “Dropping its bottle over open prison release”

pickering

Following another convicted murderer goning on the run from prison for the third time Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said there would now be ”major changes” brought in as a ”matter of urgency”…. causing one prisons expert to say the Ministry of Justice was ‘dropping its bottle’ over the issue..

Arnold Pickering, 44, from Chadderton, Greater Manchester, failed to return to HMP Kennet in Maghull, Merseyside, after leaving the Category C jail on day release at about 9.30am on Saturday.

Another inmate, Thomas Moffett, 51, from Blackburn, Lancashire, who is serving an indeterminate sentence for a number of robberies carried out in his home town in 2006, also failed to return from day release on Saturday.

Last night Merseyside Police said that officers from Lancashire Constabulary had arrested a 51-year-old man for being unlawfully at large. The man was arrested in Blackburn, Lancashire, at around 9.15pm.

Pickering last absconded in December 2009 when he was let out on day release from HMP Kirkham to work on the bins in Manchester city centre.

He was one of eight prisoners taking part in a controversial scheme run by the Prison Service with Enterprise Manchester – which emptied the bins for Manchester Council at the time.

He handed himself in four days later in Motherwell, Scotland.

Pickering, who stabbed a man to death in Oldham in 1990, had also escaped from Strangeways in Manchester on a previous occasion.

He was jailed in 1991 for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.

Pickering had been risk assessed as suitable for temporary release on licence by the Ministry of Justice, said Merseyside Police.

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said yesterday evening: “Both prisoners were due back at around 4.30pm yesterday but failed to return and this was reported to Merseyside Police at around 7pm. Since then, officers have been carrying out extensive inquiries and working with partner agencies and other forces to locate them and return them to prison.

“It’s believed both men may be in the Southport area.

“The prisoners have both been risk assessed as suitable for temporary release on licence by the Ministry of Justice, although any member of the public who sees them is advised not to approach them but to call the police.”

Pickering is described as about 5ft 11in, of medium build and with blue eyes.

The disappearance of the two men is highly embarrassing for the Government coming just two weeks after notorious armed robber Michael Wheatley – known as Skullcracker – absconded from Standford Hill open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, while on temporary release.

Ministers said at the time that there would be a full review of the case, including an assessment of the release on temporary licence (ROTL) process.

Following the latest case, Prisons Minister Jeremy Wright said there would now be ”major changes” brought in as a ”matter of urgency”.

”I am not prepared to see public safety compromised. The system for allowing prisoners out on temporary licence has been too lax up till now and we are making major changes to address this,” he said in a statement.

”In light of recent incidents I have tasked officials with implementing these changes as a matter of urgency. This means that there will shortly be significant restrictions on who is granted temporary release – which from now on must be earnt – tightening up of monitoring arrangements and abolishing any leave without a clear link to rehabilitation.

”All other elements of the ROTL review will be in place by the autumn – including tagging when the technology is available.

”Temporary release can be an important tool in helping offenders reintegrate but not at the cost of public protection.”

Conservative backbencher Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley, described the latest disappearances as an ” absolute scandal”.

He questioned why convicted murderers were ever given temporary release when figures which he obtained through parliamentary answers showed 106 had absconded in the past 10 years,

He said that when he tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill currently going through Parliament which would have prevented the temporary release of murderers, it was blocked by the Government.

”It is an absolute scandal in the prison system. How on earth people like this can ever be given temporary release from prison on licence is beyond me,” he said.

”This is a regular occurence – murderers are walking out of prison willy nilly. It’s a joke. I’m exasperated. I think the whole system is completely ridiculous.”

Officers are appealing to anyone with any information to call Merseyside Police on either 0151 777 3803 or 0151 777 3891, or via 101.

Peter McParlin, chairman of the Prison Officers Association (POA), said: “We have been saying for many years now that we have overcrowding in the prison estate, people are being put into open conditions who are unsuitable for open conditions. Twenty prisons have closed in the last three years and prison staff numbers have reduced by 6,000 since 2010.

“There is immense pressure on the system and it is clear to me that the tick box mentality that goes into transferring prisoners to open conditions has failed the public.”

However Mark Leech, editor of Converse, the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said the Ministry of Justice was “dropping its bottle” over the issue of lifers release on temporary licence (ROTL) and it should instead keep its nerve.

Mr Leech said: “Releasing lifers on ROTL from a Category C prison is a very effective way of testing whether such prisoners can be trusted when they are away from scrutiny – and see if they are suitable for transfer to an open prison and onwards towards  their final discharge.

“As in this case some lifers will fail to return, which shows they are not suitable for open conditions and they will be returned to fully closed conditions when caught – but the Ministry of Justice is now dropping its bottle over the issue when it should have the courage to defend a system of Category C ROTL which has worked exceptionally well for decades – we must not allow mistakes of individual practice to effect the vital issue of overall principle.”