Paul Flint

Justice written question – answered on 5th September 2013.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Chair, Draft Voting Eligibility (Prisoners) Bill Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice

(1) for what reasons Paul Flint was transferred to Ford Open Prison;

(2) what assessment he has made of the efficacy of risk assessments carried out on prisoners before their transfer to Ford Prison;

(3) how many prisoners absconded from Ford Prison in (a) 2011, (b) 2012 and (c) 2013 to date.

Photo of Jeremy Wright Jeremy Wright The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Mr Flint is an indeterminate sentence prisoner (ISP). The decision to transfer ISPs to open conditions is a categorisation decision which is a matter for the Secretary of State, taken by officials under agreed delegated authority from him. The Secretary of State may take this decision after seeking advice from the Parole Board or executively where a prisoner has demonstrated exceptional progress.

In Mr Flint's case, the Parole Board was satisfied that his risk of serious harm to others was not so high as to require his confinement in a closed prison establishment for the protection of the public and that a period in less secure conditions would provide a staged progression back into the community. Thus, the Parole Board recommended that Mr Flint be transferred to open conditions, and the Secretary of State accepted that recommendation.

Determinate sentenced prisoners are categorised and allocated to HMP Ford following an established risk assessment process. Prisoners may be assessed as suitable for open conditions if they present a low risk of harm to the public, are considered to be trustworthy not to abscond from low security conditions and, for those serving a lengthy prison sentence, are in general within two years of their earliest release date. Prisoners who do not meet these criteria are not moved to open conditions. Those who are later considered to have increased risk whilst in open conditions are moved back to closed conditions. For the majority of prisoners transferred to HMP Ford, this risk assessment process works well. In 2012-13, abscond levels from HMP Ford were the lowest ever recorded.

The number of absconds from HMP Ford is published annually by financial year on the gov.uk website. Details of the number of absconds from 1995/96 to 2012/13 (the most recent period for which data are available) can be found at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/225234/prison-performance-digest-12-13.xls

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