Probe calls after four abscond

AN MP called last nightcalled for a major investigation into a prison's open unit after the latest in a series of incidents where inmates have absconded.

AN MP called last nightcalled for a major investigation into a prison's open unit after the latest in a series of incidents where inmates have absconded.

Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer was speaking after four prisoners absconded from Hollesley Bay Open Unit near Woodbridge in 48 hours over the Easter weekend.

The Tory MP said an inquiry by an external team of advisors needed to be carried out to discover the reasons why prisoners coming to the end of their sentences were making "irrational" decisions to abscond, and lose their privileges.

"Why is our system such that people feel they have to do this when you would have thought at that stage in their career in prison they would be wanting to get out as quick as possible?" he said.

"Lots of people are making these decisions which are irrational and Hollesley Bay has to ask itself why this is so. Having got that far you would have expected them to last a few more months.

"I think it is an issue, which the prison itself needs to take extremely seriously. There needs to be some advice from outside to Hollesley Bay about these issues."

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In September 2002, the EADT wrote to Home Secretary David Blunkett asking questions about the open unit at Hollesley Bay Prison after 17 prisoners absconded over a two-year period.

Hilary BennHome Office Minister for Prisons and Probation replied that steps had been taken to review and strengthen prisoner risk assessment and procedures, in the light of the numbers of prisoners absconding, including the case of Stof Rachidewho absconded and then carried out armed raids in London in 2002.

Mr Gummer added: "I am asking in a sense for the kind of look which any business would have if it was clear things were not going very well. They would bring in a management consultant. Someone who can ask has this prison got it right?

"I do know that there are too many examples of mistakes being made over the last few years and we need to have the kind of investigation which is not a kind of antagonistic one or that sets out to blame but that looks at the situation and what needs to be done.

"The best example is a management consultancy concept, bringing in people but not to undermine what is a very difficult job," he added.

Suffolk police said two prisoners were found missing at 8.20am on Sunday, both are considered to be violent and should not be approached by the public.

Michael Morris, 24, is serving time for grievous bodily harm and Albie Steer, 22, is in prison for drugs offences. Stuart Thompson, is serving six years for burglary and was found to be missing at 12.30pm on Saturday.

He is known to have links to the Cleveland area and police are warning people not to approach him.

Police apprehended a fourth prisoner who absconded at 1pm on Saturday, after chasing him across a field.

A Prison Service spokeswoman said people placed at an open prison go through a thorough risk assessment based on their likelihood to reoffend and people who are not deemed to be a danger to the public are out in open prisons.

The spokeswoman added that at times when families normally gather together, such as festive periods, prisoners can be effected if they do not expect to see their loved ones.

She added that those prisoners in an open unit have served a good proportion of their sentence.

Morris is described as 1.77metres tall with brown hair, green eyes, of medium build, a scar on his left eyelid and tattoos.

Steer has black hair, brown eyes, a slight build, is 1.67metres tall and has two tattoos on his left arm.

Thompson has numerous tattoos, a goatee beard, brown hair, green eyes and an oval shaped faced. He is five feet five inches tall.

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