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Prisoners must pass new three-step test before moving into open prison following absconds of Gary Butcher and Paul Robson from HMP North Sea Camp in Lincolnshire



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A Government reform will see serious offenders face much tougher tests before they can move into open prisons.

Changes have come into effect that will see the likes of murderers and rapists have to pass a three-step test before they can make a transfer.

The news comes after two prisoners absconded from Boston’s HMP North Sea Camp in recent months.

Offenders will face a new three-step test before they can move to open prison
Offenders will face a new three-step test before they can move to open prison

Convicted sex offender Gary Butcher did so in late May, while Paul Robson - also a sex offender - spent four days on the run back in February.

The new three-step test will see offenders made to prove they are highly unlikely to abscond from open prison, that the move is essential for them to work towards future release, and that the move would not undermine public confidence in the wider criminal justice system.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, the primary enforcer of the new rules, said: “Keeping the public safe is government’s first duty. That’s why I’m toughening up the test the most dangerous criminals must pass before they can move into open prisons.

“We are also going to introduce a ministerial check on parole decisions to release the most serious offenders – to protect the public and make our streets safer.”

Until the changes were introduced on June 6, Mr Raab could only block a Parole Board recommendation to move an offender to an open prison for three reasons:

  • If it went against the recommendations of the expert risk assessment without explaining why
  • If it was based on inaccurate information
  • Where there was not a wholly persuasive case for the move


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