December 10 2013 Latest news:
By Marijke Cox, Reporter
Sunday, August 19, 2012
HM Prisons Service said prisoners will be subject to disciplinary proceedings
A convicted robber has become the third prisoner to have gone on the run while on community release from the same prison in just eight weeks raising questions over security procedures.
Keith Cockerton went missing last Saturday when he failed to return to Blantyre House open prison in Horden near Goudhurst.
It came just weeks after convicted murder Jamie Frater, 39, who stabbed a teacher to death in 1993, went on the run while working in the community on July 2.
And just two weeks previously, on June 18, Blantyre House prisoner Raymond Atkins, 39, who is serving a sentence for robbery and manslaughter, also failed to return to the prison while on community release.
On each occasion Kent Police warned the public not to approach the prisoners.
Frater handed himself in to police in Dorset just days after fleeing and Atkins was found in Hastings five days after he fled.
HM Prisons Service would not comment on how the three were able to abscond or what action was being taken.
A spokeswoman said it was now a police matter.
She stressed that prisoners underwent rigorous risk assessments before they were granted temporary release into the community.
“Only prisoners representing minimal risk of escape and harm to the public are eligible for release on temporary licence,” she said.
“They must pass a rigorous risk assessment and adhere to a strict set of rules at all times.
“Those who breach these conditions in any way will be subject to disciplinary proceedings and are likely to be moved to closed conditions.”
Blantyre House is a category C/D resettlement prison designed to prepare men for their eventual release.
It offers offenders the opportunity to do basic skills qualifications and courses such as healthy lifestyle and social and life skills, as well as a number of vocational courses.
Once risk assessed prisoners are allowed to develop their education by attending external colleges.
They are also allowed to work in roles such as cleaners and kitchen workers.
Prisoners risk assessed and able to go out, initially take part in escorted project parties within the local community and then move on to individual community work unaccompanied.
The prisons spokeswoman said these prisoners were categorised as being of low risk to the public.
She also stressed that release on temporary licence (ROTL) helped to reduce re-offending by setting up appropriate employment and rehabilitation work as well as maintaining family contact.