Missing prisoners spark jail concerns

Prison bosses have been warned they are under close scrutiny after two men absconded in just nine days.

Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 9:38 am
KIrkham Prison

Police are currently hunting for two inmates who have walked away from Kirkham Prison.

And today concerns were raised about the type of prisoner being housed at the category D open jail following the double escape.

Keith John Knight, 26, from Southport, is thought to have left HMP Kirkham on Friday June 17 . He was serving a four year sentence for robbery.

Knight is known to have links to Merseyside and Lancashire, in particular Southport, Burscough, Preston and Blackpool.

A second prisoner, Philip Deens, 38, was reported as missing from HMP Kirkham on Sunday.

He failed to return from a period of temporary licence.

Coun Keith Beckett is a former prison worker.

He insisted there were no concerns over the running of the prison or its staff but raised concerns over a change in policy within the Prison Service.

He said: “The prison and its staff do an excellent job and serve the community extremely well.

“However the category of prisoner being sent to Kirkham has been changed.

“The governor of the prison has no say over the type of prisoner being received and whether they are suitable for an open prison.”

And Coun Liz Oades made clear the prison would be under close scrutiny.

She said: “One thing we made clear we did not want at prison was sex offenders and we believe they have stuck to that agreement.

“However, if a pattern develops with prisoners absconding we may look to meet with prison representative.

“We will be keeping a close eye on the situation.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “Absconds from open prisons have fallen to a record low since 2010, down 75 per cent on a decade ago.

“But we are not complacent and take each one extremely seriously, always notifying the police at the earliest possible opportunity.

“Those who do abscond are returned to much tougher, closed prisons where they will have to serve additional time.”

The spokesman also refuted Coun Beckett’s claims that the category of the prison had been changed over the last 18 months.