West Sussex: Police Error Over "On-The-Run" Inmate

24 June 2014, 12:56 | Updated: 24 June 2014, 13:04

Ford Open Prison West Sussex

Sussex Police mistakenly appealed for help in tracing a "fugitive'' inmate who actually handed himself in 13 years ago.

Police this month named Christopher Street, 62, as one of eight men who needed to be recaptured after absconding from under-fire HMP Ford in West Sussex.

The force said Street had gone on the run from the Category D jail in November 2001 after being convicted of conspiracy to rob and firearms offences.

But following further checks, it has now emerged that Street actually handed himself in four days later and went on to complete his sentence.

Detective Superintendent Jez Graves, of Sussex Police, said: ``In the initial scoping process of prioritising those absconders on whom we would put our initial focus, Mr Street was identified as one of those we were seeking. An officer has since identified that he is no longer wanted and he has been removed from the list.''

The slip-up comes as the force has faced recent criticism for issuing belated public appeals for help in tracing prisoners on the run from HMP Ford.

Among the list of the eight absconders recently issued was convicted murderer Timothy O'Leary, 59, who has been on the run for 17 years.

O'Leary, also known as Timothy McCarthy, was jailed for life for murdering a fellow traveller in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, in September 1981.

Two other convicted murderers are also at large from HMP Ford, including Robert Donovan, 57, who went missing in June 2010, and Derek Passmore, 49, who absconded in June last year.

Sussex Police said there are 87 inmates missing from HMP Ford. The force has set up a unit to review absconders from the jail and since November, 25 offenders have been recaptured.

Local Conservative MP Nick Gibb has raised concern at the number of inmates going missing from the jail, saying the risk assessment of offenders sent there has not been "vigorous enough''.

The Ministry of Justice said that 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.

He was jailed for life for a raid on a building society while on the run from HMP Standford Hill in Kent, the second time he has been jailed for holding up the same branch.

Most recent Ministry of Justice figures show there were 1,242 indeterminate-sentenced prisoners - that is, those serving life and imprisonment for public protection sentences (IPP) - as at December 31 last year. This includes 643 lifers and 599 IPP inmates in open prisons.