HC Deb 15 December 1993 vol 234 cc656-7W
Mr. David Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the circumstances which allowed the escape of a high-security prisoner, from his escort in or in the vicinity of the Bell public house, Pokesdown, Bournemouth on Friday 3 December.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the Director General of the Prison Service, who has been asked to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter from Mr. D. Lewis to Mr. David Atkinson, dated 15 December 1993: The Home Secretary has asked me to reply to your recent Question about the circumstances which allowed the escape of a high security prisoner, from his escort in the vicinity of the Bell public house, Pokesdown, Bournemouth on Friday 3 December. Richard James Tyres was granted temporary release from HMP Albany under Rule 6 of the Prison Rules. This provides for prisoners to be released outside the custody or control of a prison officer for any special purpose which will assist them in their transition from prison life to freedom. Mr. Tyres was not a high security prisoner; he had been recategorised to category C (low risk) in October 1993 as a result of his behaviour and progress in prison and in consequence was considered a suitable risk for temporary release. He was accompanied, but not escorted, by his personal case officer who had been working closely with Mr. Tyres and the Probation Service to develop realistic resettlement plans for his eventual release. The purpose of this release was to attend an interview in Bournemouth with the community drug team. Following the Community Care Act it is now necessary to have a needs assessment completed before the local authority will agree to recommend the funding of a place in a residential drug unit on release. Following the interview there was an interval before the afternoon ferry booking. Both the officer and inmate went into a pub where the officer drank orange juice and the prisoner brown ale. No specific instructions had been given about this. Had the prisoner been released, as normal, without an officer accompanying him, it would have been a matter over which we would have had no control. On leaving the public house Mr. Tyres ran off. The officer immediately alerted the police who had been informed, in advance, of Mr. Tyres presence in the area. Although Mr. Tyres had been sentenced to five years imprisonment in May 1992, he was eligible for release on licence in August 1993, taking into account time spent on remand. His first application was not successful and he was due to be reviewed again in May 1994. If he were to have any realistic chance of success in this review it would be essential for him to demonstrate satisfactory release plans were in place. Mr. Tyres was recaptured by the police on 9 December. The governor is conducting a full inquiry into the incident to establish whether there were any weaknesses in the procedures which led to the decision to release Mr. Tyres.