‘UNACCEPTABLE’ is the word Uttoxeter’s MP has used as a Government Minister denied there is a problem with the number of absconders leaving an open prison.
The denial comes just weeks after it was revealed 24 HMP Sudbury prisoners remain unlawfully at large in the community, and despite the recent case of five prisoners walking out in the space of four days.
MP Andrew Griffiths had questioned Government Ministers over what action would be taken on the growing issue of absconders walking out of the prison.
Mr Griffiths put the question to Under-Secretary of State for Justice Andrew Selous on Tuesday.
He asked what assessment he had made of the effectiveness of open prisons and emphasised constituents were fearing for their safety as a result of the ongoing escapes.
Andrew Griffiths was told by the Minister the prison was regularly inspected – that the official rating currently stood at Grade 3 – which is meeting targets – and they are satisfied with the controls in place to prevent absconders.
Andrew Griffiths said to the minister: “Sudbury prison is neither effective nor meeting its targets. We recently had four prisoners absconding in five days and two have disappeared in the last month.
“My constituents are concerned for their safety.
“This is not working – what is the Minister going to do about it?”
Minister Andrew Selous said: “The list of 24 Sudbury prisoners unlawfully at large that was recently published by Derbyshire police includes cases from 1992, with half occurring before 2006.
“Absconds have reduced by 80 per cent in the last 10 years, and this Government have recently made significant changes to the way prisoners are assessed for eligibility for open prisons.”
Andrew Griffiths told the Post and Times he was not satisfied with the responses provided.
He said: “I recognise that an open prison has a much lower security and freedom for inmates but it’s almost a weekly case of people walking out unchallenged. We need to look at the categories of prisoner and go back to sending them to open prisons until we are sure of complete rehabilitation.
“I’m not satisfied with the response, it’s unacceptable. Residents’ safety should be top priority.”
By Joanna Craig (Uttoxeter Post and Times)