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Prime Minister promises open prison review

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: May 12, 2014

  • David Cameron

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PRIME Minister David Cameron has promised to launch a review into Britain’s open prison system following a series of escapes which have led to calls for action.

Sudbury Open Prison has come under fire for its record over the past year, with many inmates seizing the opportunity to flee while on temporary release.

The issue also came under the spotlight of the national media last week after violent criminal Michael Wheatley, known as the ‘Skull Cracker’, went on the run from an open prison in Kent.

The Prime Minister faced questions on the issue during a visit to Derbyshire, where he vowed to make the process of determining which prisoners are suitable for open jails more ‘robust’.

Armed robber Wheatley is now back in custody after allegedly holding up a bank during his short time on the run.

Mr Cameron said: “In the case of this individual, I think I’m right in saying he had done the tariff that was set following his conviction and so he was, under the rules, applicable for potential release and that’s why I think he was put into a more open prison and allowed into the community.

“Clearly, this went wrong, so let’s learn the lessons of this case and make sure that our arrangements for testing whether a person is safe to be released are robust. That’s what we must do.”

Burton’s MP Andrew Griffiths has been a regular critic of Sudbury jail as prisoners continue to slip through the net.

Earlier this year, 10 inmates fled in just six weeks, while convicted murderer Carl Moses, who was serving a life sentence, went on the run last summer.

Mr Griffiths said: “If this is happening so regularly, something is clearly going wrong with the type of prisoners they are putting in the open prisons. These prisoners are clearly not ready for the freedom that Sudbury offers.”

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