Police chief’s rehabilitation questions follow armed robber’s Hollesley Bay disappearance

HMP Hollesley Bay

HMP Hollesley Bay - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s crime chief tonight shared his “ongoing concern” with balancing public safety and the rehabilitation of criminals after an armed robber went on the loose from minimum security jail.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore - Credit: Archant

John Drury disappeared this morning from the Category D open prison at Hollesley Bay, near Woodbridge, where he was serving an indefinite sentence for holding up a bookmakers.

The 35-year-old was jailed in 2006, with accomplice Geoffrey Allam, for robbing a branch of Coral in Peterborough with a handgun.

Police and Crime Commissioner, Tim Passmore said he would meet courts minister Shailesh Vara to seek better dialogue with the Ministry of Justice over serious criminals being housed in low security prisons.

“This is an ongoing concern which I know I share with people working in the prison system in Suffolk,” he said.

John Drury, Hollesley Bay absconder

John Drury, Hollesley Bay absconder - Credit: Archant


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“We have to remember that governors have no say in who gets allocated to their prisons. That decision is made mostly by the prison service and parole board.

“The difficulty is that, at some stage, these people need to be released into the community. We need to ensure that all sensible analysis of risk has been taken care of.

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“It is a matter of public trust and confidence. One would hope that sentences are sufficiently robust to act as a deterrent.

“When sentences sound excessively lenient, that’s where I can come in and can make judges accountable.”

Drury, who was last seen at 10.45am, has connections to Peterborough and Lincolnshire.

Police launched an extensive search on the ground and with the force helicopter, and urged anyone who knows where he is to contact officers but not to approach him.

Drury is white, about 5ft 10in, slight, with short brown hair and green eyes. He was wearing grey shorts and a blue jumper, and has a tattoo around his upper right arm.

Mr Passmore said police had followed protocol by letting the public know of Drury’s disappearance as soon as possible.

He added: “Although this happens on occasion, having looked at the figures and met with the governor, compared to other open prisons, Hollesley Bay has one of the best, if not the best track record for absconding.

“I have been told that the vast majority of inmates are not from Suffolk, and that most go straight back to the place they came from when they abscond. I’m not saying there is no risk, but I want to get it into proportion.”

Mr Passmore said he was pleased that the Lord Chancellor and Prime Minister had the matter of rehabilitation of offenders on their agenda, and said he would be meeting the courts minister in due course.

If you can help police find Drury, contact your nearest police station using the national number 101.

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