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Prisoner Escapes

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN 210144, tabled on 13 October 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prisoners in each security category are missing, having absconded from each prison in England and Wales.

Answered on

20 October 2014

Absconds have reached record lows - down 80% over the last 10 years - but each incident is taken seriously, with the police contacted as a matter of urgency. Over 97% of prisoners who abscond are re-captured and returned to custody. Re-captured absconders will be returned to a more secure closed prison where they face either a criminal prosecution for absconding or an internal adjudication in prison in front of a visiting judge. In both cases they can receive additional time in prison.

The tables below provide details of the security category and offence type of those absconders who are currently unlawfully at large having absconded between April 2004 and March 2014 (the most recent period that statistics are available). Information prior to April 2004 could only be collated by performing manual checks across different databases and could only be achieved at disproportionate cost.

Table1: Security category of absconders unlawfully at large from April 2004 to March 2014, as on 14 October 2014

Current Security Category

Number of absconders

Cat C1


Cat D


Female Open


Immigration detainee 2


Table2: Offence type of absconders unlawfully at large from April 2004 to March 2014, as on 14 October 2014

Offence Type

Number of absconders

Violence against the person


Sexual Offences






Theft & Handling


Fraud & Forgery


Drug Offences


Motoring offences


Other offences


Held for Immigration Purposes 2


1 One Category C prisoner absconded from an accompanied absence whilst out of the Cat C prison.

2 Tables include absconds of immigration detainees from establishments operated as Immigration Removal Centres by NOMS under contract to the Home Office (one immigration detainee held in a Category D prison has been included as a Category D absconder in Table 1).

These figures have been drawn from live administrative data systems which may be amended at any time. Although care is taken when processing and analysing the returns, the detail collected is subject to the inaccuracies inherent in any large scale recording system.

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