Hollesley absconders flee over Easter

THE Prison Service today defended its record at Hollesley Bay open unit in Suffolk - after four prisoners absconded in just 48 hours during the Easter weekend.

THE Prison Service today defended its record at Hollesley Bay open unit in Suffolk - after four prisoners absconded in just 48 hours during the Easter weekend.

Police managed to apprehend one within 90 minutes of discovering the prisoner missing after scrambling the force helicopter, but another three were still on the run last night.

The inmates still on the run were serving sentences for crimes including grievous bodily harm, drug offences and burglary.

A Suffolk Police spokesman said two offenders were found missing at 8.20am on Sunday, both are considered to be violent, and the public should not approach them.

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They are Michael Morris, 24, serving time for GBH and Albie Steer, 22, in prison for drug offences.

Inmate Stuart Thompson, serving six years for burglary, was found to be missing at 12.30pm on Saturday. The 39-year-old is known to have links to the Cleveland area and officers are warning people not to approach him.

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Police said they apprehended a fourth prisoner who absconded at 1pm on Saturday, catching him trying to hitchhike to Ipswich from the Leiston area. Details of why the 30-year-old was in prison were unclear last night, but police scrambled their force helicopter and traffic officers on the ground assisted catching him at 2.30pm after giving chase across a field.

John Gummer, Conservative MP for Suffolk Coastal, said the Suffolk prison tried hard to do its job, but he claimed it was under-resourced and there was a need to reform the Prison Service.

But a spokeswoman for the service said: "Everyone placed in an open prison goes through a thorough risk assessment, although it is not an exact science.

"It is based on their likelihood to reoffend and people who are not deemed to be a danger to the public are out in open prisons.

"People go down the categories in prisons, gain more trust and responsibility. It's a good way to get prisoners ready for release and when someone absconds, we inform the police straight away.''

The spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on individual cases, but said 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 1.77 metres 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 1.67 metres tall and has two tattoos on his left arm.

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

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