Security 'tighter' at Hollesley Bay

SECURITY measures to stop prisoners escaping from a Suffolk prison are being tightened, Home Office ministers said today.Officials said that "steps have been taken to review and strengthen" procedures at Hollesley Bay prison after several high profile escapes in recent years.

SECURITY measures to stop prisoners escaping from a Suffolk prison are being tightened, Home Office ministers said today.

Officials said that "steps have been taken to review and strengthen" procedures at Hollesley Bay prison after several high profile escapes in recent years.

Disgraced peer Jeffrey Archer is currently serving a four-year sentence for perjury at the prison near Woodbridge dubbed 'Holiday Bay' by inmates because of its relaxed regime.

In just over two years, 17 prisoners including seven murderers have walked out of the open unit at the jail.

Stof Rachide, a 28-year-old Frenchman, absconded from the jail in July last year. He was eventually caught and convicted at the Old Bailey last month and jailed for 11 years for a series of terrifying armed robberies in London.

Since then another inmate has absconded during a visit to Ipswich Hospital for an x-ray. Patrick O'Brien, 21, was serving a three year sentence in a young offenders' institution when he went missing on October 17.

Most Read

He was jailed in January for a number of offences, including robbery, and has been described as violent by police.

Hilary Benn, Home Office Minister for Prisons and Probation, confirmed that the Rachide case has led to tighter regulations.

"The processes at Hollesley Bay have been reviewed in light of recent cases to ensure that potential indicators of an increased risk of absconding are properly identified and that the appropriate action is taken."

No detail of what the steps taken was given have been but Michael Spurr, prison service area manager for the east of England, said that the prison has now "formalised" existing procedures.

He added: "We have looked specifically at what we can do to identify the potential for absconding. We are also looking at how we ensure that all the information gathered is taken into account when we are making decisions about open conditions.

"If there are any changes to a prisoner's sentence then there is an automatic review of his status. These were steps that we have been taking but we have now formalised them."

John Gummer Suffolk Coastal MP has promised to write to Mr Benn to ask what precise measures are being taken at Hollesley Bay.

He said: "I am pleased that at long last the Home Office is taking seriously the concerns that we have been voicing.

"I am just sorry that it has taken so long to answer our quite reasonable questions and I must know in detail what steps they are taking and until I do I cannot reassure my constituents.

"We need to know what the measures are, how they will be implemented and who will be monitoring them."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter