Anger over prisons claim

DANGEROUS prisoners are being sent to open prisons similar to Suffolk's Hollesley Bay in order to free up space in closed jails, it has been claimed today.

YET another prisoner has absconded from Hollesley Bay.

The news comes just hours after it was revealed that open jails are taking more potentially-dangerous inmates.

Gary Drain, 40, was serving six years for causing death by dangerous driving. He is from the Homerton area of London.

Today Suffolk MP John Gummer repeated his call for an investigation into the kind of prisoners sent to Hollesley.

According to prison officers and probation officers unsuitable criminals are moving to the category D prisons, with some escaping and committing more offences.

The BBC's Panorama programme said that almost 14,000 prisoners had absconded from the least-secure jails in the last ten years.

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At least one convicted murderer killed again after walking out of a Scottish open prison - he later committed suicide while on remand in a high-security jail.

Mr Gummer, whose Suffolk Coastal constituency includes Hollesley Bay, said he was appalled at the allegations.

He said: “I have asked questions of successive home secretaries and on every occasion they have said this is not true. I will be asking more questions and if it turns out to be true, it will be extremely serious.

“They have got themselves into a mess because they have a shortage of places in prisons so they are using every place they have got - even if it is an open prison.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice said today: "Public protection is paramount and all prisoners located in open conditions have been rigorously risk assessed.

"By sending more low-risk short sentence prisoners to open prisons we are able to free up places in closed prisons where pressure on places is greatest.

“These measures have been carefully considered and exclude any short sentence prisoner who has ever been convicted of a sexual offence, is currently serving a sentence for a violent offence, or who is facing deportation.”

Should more been done to make open prisons secure? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail