Spotlight on prison security after escape
A MAN sentenced to life in jail has become the second dangerous criminal to go on the run from a Goudhurst prison in two weeks – prompting security fears.
The disappearance of Raymond Atkins from HMP Blantyre follows an escape by murderer Jamie Frater last month.
Just ten months ago it was revealed convicted killer Joseph Williams was using his day releases from the prison to carry out armed robberies.
Victim support charities are now calling for stronger measures at the prison, near Curtisden Green.
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This week police warned the public not to approach Raymond Atkins, 39, who absconded after being granted home leave on Saturday and is still at large.
Atkins has a string of convictions including armed robbery, and was jailed for life for mugging an 82-year old man in order to buy heroin.
The frail victim later died of his injuries.
When he was sentenced to life in 2006, the judge said Atkins was a danger to the public.
He was given home leave for family reasons but breached it by not staying at the allocated Brighton hostel.
Rose Dixon, chief executive of charity Support After Murder and Manslaughter, said: "Authorities need to be looking more carefully at the monitoring process when they move people to an open prison – especially if these are people who have been sentenced to life.
"If prisoners are happy to abscond, then it just shows they have no respect for the system and it beggars belief that they are allowed to escape.
"If they kill once, what is to stop them killing again?
"All we hear about is the human rights of prisoners. What about the rights of those left bereaved by them?"
However, chairman of Goudhurst Parish Council Antony Harris said the community had a good relationship with the open prison and these cases were just exceptions.
A Prison Service spokesman said it was now a police matter.
He said: "Only prisoners representing minimal risk of escape and harm to the public are eligible for release on temporary licence.
"They must pass a rigorous risk assessment and adhere to a strict set of rules at all times.
"Those who breach these conditions in any way will be subject to disciplinary proceedings and are likely to be moved to closed conditions."