‘SERIOUS concerns’ have been raised by the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton after two murderers absconded from Ford Prison.
Nick Gibb has expressed his worry that the two convicted killers who failed to return to the category C open prison in the past two months had yet to be recaptured by police.
Mr Gibb has written to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, asking for a copy of the risk assessment conducted by the Department of Justice.
Mr Gibb wrote: “These two episodes put local residents at risk and seriously damage confidence in the Prison Service’s stewardship of Ford Prison.
“When prisoners convicted of serious offences, such as murder, abscond from Ford Prison, it raises serious doubts about the rigour and professionalism of the way prisoners are allocated to the prison.
“It is important, therefore, that the Government is able to provide assurance that measures have been put in place to improve the risk assessment of prisoners being sent to Ford Prison.”
Sussex Police is still searching for 48-year-old Derek Passmore, who absconded from Ford on June 22, and has not been seen since.
He was serving a life sentence for the murder of a man in Hampton, Middlesex, in October, 1996.
On July 1, a second inmate, Paul Flint, 48, also walked out of the prison.
A police spokesman said Flint was believed to be a suspect in a number of crimes in Brighton and Hove. He has convictions for murder and burglary and was jailed in 1990.
Mr Gibb pointed out in his letter that this was the second time Flint had absconded from an open prison, having previously gone missing from Hollesley Bay Prison, in June, last year.
Mr Gibb has now submitted three questions to Mr Grayling, asking why Paul Flint was transferred to Ford, what the risk assessment process was and how many prisoners in total have absconded from Ford since January, 2011.
Andrew Isaac, chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board at Ford, which regularly assesses the prison, said he was confident Ford was doing everything it could to limit absconds.
He explained: “It is inevitable some offenders will abscond from open prisons.
“And out of all the risk assessments that are made throughout the prison service, some will be shown to be wrong.
“But as far as Ford is concerned, I am confident that the management takes risk assessment very seriously and that those few who do abscond are most unlikely to be any threat at all to the local community.”