September 2 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Drugs, bullying and a prison population crisis are being blamed for the number of Hollesley Bay inmates going on the run almost doubling in the past three years.
Ministry of Justice figures show 25 prisoners at the open prison either absconded or did not return from approved leave in 2012/13.
The previous year the number of fugitives stood at 17, while in 2010/11 there were 13 prisoners who left the prison but failed to came back.
Since the beginning of this month there have been two inmates who have absconded or failed to return to the Suffolk jail.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has said she will be seeking answers over the increase from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
However, a spokesman for the Prison Officers’ Association said: “Hollesley Bay has been the victim of the prison population crisis. Inappropriate prisoners are being sent there.
“As a result we have had people who are perfectly fit for open conditions, but they have walked out because they can’t cope with the regime because there are too many drugs available and there is a bullying culture.
“Hollesley Bay is accepting prisoners who are not fit for open conditions. There is no other answer to it. It’s a simple fact of life.
“If you look at its history and the offences of the people in Hollesley Bay and the length of their sentences I would be extremely surprised if there are not at least 40% who are in the prison too early, and that people would be flabbergasted they are in open conditions.”
Asked the reason for the increase and what is being done about preventing inmates from becoming fugitives, a MoJ spokeswoman said: “The number of people absconding from HMP Hollesley Bay or failing to return from temporary release has fallen significantly in the past eight years.
“Under this Government, absconds across England and Wales have fallen to historically low levels - down by 84 per cent in the past 10 years.
“We are also toughening-up the release on temporary licence scheme so prisoners will be subject to stricter risk assessments and tagged, so we can more closely monitor their activity.”
Absconders and those who fail to return are calculated separately by the MoJ.
It added there has been a general downward trend at Hollesley Bay in the number of absconders over the past 10 years
According to official figures in 2003/04 there were 36 absconders, while in 2012/13 there were eight.
Ms Coffey said: “Having open prisons is important to help facilitate prisoners transition back into normal life. However, the public must have confidence that they are not an easy place for potentially dangerous criminals.
“I will follow up with the Ministry of Justice when Parliament resumes.”
The latest Hollesley Bay inmate to go missing is Jerry Monerville who was serving an eight-year sentence for grievous bodily harm and robbery after twice slashing the face of a 15-year-old Asian boy in London in November 2010.
Monerville, 49, failed to return to Hollesley Bay open prison by 3.30pm last Tuesday after being given leave to go to London the previous Friday. He has since been detained in the capital.
Less than a week before Monerville went missing Lee Graham absconded from Hollesley Bay.
The 35-year-old was convicted for a public order offence after “threatening to kill”.