90 prisoners go missing at open jail

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Nearly 90 prisoners are on the run from an open jail, including some who have been missing for years, it has been revealed.

HMP Ford near Arundel, West Sussex, with some other open jails, has been at the centre of a number of high-profile cases.

This week it emerged that a public appeal by Sussex Police to help trace murderer Robert Donovan, 57, had only been made four years after he walked out from Ford.

The disclosure that 89 Ford inmates are at large comes as it emerged that violent robber Simon Rhodes-Butler, 37, handed himself into police last night after fleeing from the jail last month.

And an armed robber serving a life sentence David Blood, 48, who police said may pose a threat to the public, absconded from the Category D prison some time between 8.30am and 1pm on Thursday.

It is thought to be the second time he has absconded from an open prison after going missing from HMP Sudbury in Derbyshire in April 2012.

Local Conservative MP, Nick Gibb, has raised concern at the number of inmates convicted of serious offences going missing from HMP Ford.

Mr Gibb, the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said: “The risk assessment of prisoners who are being sent to Ford open prison is clearly not vigorous enough.”

Sussex Police said the average number of prisoners who have absconded from HMP Ford in recent years stands at 23 annually, but currently 89 are at large, eight with convictions for violence.

The Ministry of Justice said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has ordered major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.

It was the case of “Skullcracker” Michael Wheatley which prompted ministers to launch a major review of the case, including a broader assessment of the release on temporary licence (ROTL) process.