North Thanet`s MP, Roger Gale, has described as "no April Fool's joke" a Home Office answer to a parliamentary question that indicates that Open Prisons are, effectively, "walk-free" establishments.
In a written question the MP asked for details of the number of convicts that have absconded from Kent's Open Prison, Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey.
The written response from Home Office Minister Gerry Sutcliffe reveals that a total of 606 have not returned too their cells for roll call since central records were first collected in 1995/6, with 32 of that number absconding during the past year.
"What is more worrying is that the Home Office does not appear to have any system for collating recapture data - so they don't know how many "absentees" have been returned to complete their sentences, how many are still missing or where they are! A Home Office spokesman is quoted as saying that: "The nature of open prisons means that we cannot guarantee that prisoners won't abscond", which is scarcely reassuring and one has to assume that if this is the attitude taken to free-range prisoners in Kent then it is almost certainly the attitude taken nationwide."
If convicted criminals are not going to serve their sentences as ordered by the court then there seems small point in arresting and sentencing them in the first place!
The phrase "not fit for purpose" springs to mind again!"