The disappearance of three prisoners from Kirkham open prison in the space of a week has sparked concern.
The men, one of whom is a convicted killer, were being hunted after failing to return to the facility between October 1 and October 8.
Their escape comes after two men went missing within the space of a week in June, and after robber William Tams, 55, fled in August.
Kirkham councillor Liz Oades called the absconds ‘alarming’, and said she would be looking to meet with prison bosses.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Public protection is our top priority. When an abscond takes place, police are immediately notified and are responsible for locating the offender.
“Those who do abscond are returned to much tougher, closed prisons where they will have to serve additional time.” In 2014/15, 24 prisoners absconded – which means escaping without overcoming physical security – from the minimum security prison.
When an abscond takes place, police are immediately notified
That’s down significantly from 277 in 1996/97, but double a 10-year low of 12 recorded in 2009/10, figures by the Ministry of Justice show.
Between 2009 and 2014, six murderers also vanished – they are understood to have been close to the end of their sentences.
The three men who escaped last week were Christopher Hannon, 58, a convicted killer and robber from Blackley, who has a history of absconding. He left Kirkham on the night of Saturday, October 1, prompting officers to warn the public against approaching him because of his past.
Hannon, who was convicted of manslaughter in 1997, had been serving an indeterminate life sentence after being jailed for robbery in December 2008.
Days later, police also warned the public not to approach burglar Paul Bogin, 48, of Carnforth, after he absconded at around 8pm on Tuesday, October 4.
And last Saturday, drug dealer Anthony Donnellan, 38, of Harpurhey, failed to return after being released on a temporary licence.
Hannon was caught by police in Manchester on Monday and Donnellan in Merseyside yesterday .Bogin was caught in Morecambe on October 8.
A Parole Board spokesman said: “While most indeterminate sentence prisoners are likely to spend a period in open conditions before potential release, it is not a requirement and there is no bar to releasing a prisoner directly from closed conditions.
“The Parole Board simply applies the test for release, wherever the prisoner is held, and will direct release only if it is satisfied that detention is no longer necessary in order to protect the public.
“In considering a recommendation for open conditions, the Parole Board is required to make a balanced assessment of the risks and benefits of such a move; the emphasis should be on risk to the public.When making its decision the Parole Board will take into account the nature of the offence, the prisoner’s offending history, the prisoner’s progress in prison, any statement made on behalf of the victim, psychologist’s reports, probation officer’s reports, prisons officer’s reports and any statistical risk assessments that have been completed.
“A prisoner can be returned to closed conditions at any time if there are adverse developments that make it no longer safe for the prisoner to be held in open conditions.
“Under the current requirement of Article 5(4) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) the continued detention of an indeterminate sentence prisoner should be reviewed by a Court-like body, at least every two years.”
Last year, Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary arsonist Jordan Morgan – who once tried to dig his way out of Preston Prison – went missing from Kirkham, which houses around 580 prisoners at a cost of £17,000 each, eight days after being moved there.
The 22-year-old’s disappearance remained a secret for eight months until The Gazette challenged the Ministry of Justice and police.
The former resident was caught hours after appearing on The Gazette’s front page.