Page last updated at 23:54 GMT, Tuesday, 1 August 2006 00:54 UK

'More absconders' in open prisons

Thorn Cross
Thorn Cross is an open young offender institution

Two open prisons in the North West have had the highest number of absconders in the country over the last decade.

The figures were obtained by the BBC News website using the Freedom of Information Act earlier this year.

Thorn Cross near Warrington and Kirkham Open Prison near Blackpool have both had more than 1,100 inmates abscond over the past 10 years.

Their combined totals make up more than a third of the national total for the years 1997-2006.

Kirkham Prison had a total of 1,154 prisoners absconding in that period and 1,172 left Thorn Cross.

The nature of open prisons means that we can never guarantee that prisoners will not abscond
Statement from Thorn Cross

HMP Kirkham is a category D training prison with accommodation for more than 600 adult male prisoners.

Thorn Cross is an open young offender institution which caters for more than 320 prisoners with less than two years left to serve.

In a statement, Thorn Cross said the nature of open prisons means it cannot guarantee inmates will not abscond.

"All those located in open conditions have been rigorously risk assessed and categorised as being of low risk to the public," a spokesman said.

"Time in open prisons affords prisoners the opportunity to find work, re-establish family ties, reintegrate into the community and ensure housing needs are met.

"For long-term prisoners these are essential components for successful resettlement and an important factor in protecting the public.

"The nature of open prisons means that we can never guarantee that prisoners will not abscond, but the number of those who do is now at its lowest level for 10 years."



SEE ALSO
MP urges review of open prisons
12 Feb 06 |  Bristol
3m prison wing 'not being used'
03 Jun 05 |  Lancashire

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