MP for Boston and Skegness Matt Warman has called for an “urgent” fix to the parole and justice system after convicted sex offender Paul Robson absconded from North Sea Camp, an open prison within the MP’s constituency.
Paul Robson, 56, absconded from HMP North Sea Camp, a category D open prison in Freiston near Boston, on Sunday, February 13 and is still on the loose. He is one of 100 prisoners to flee the prison in the last decade.
Robson had been refused parole on five separate occasions, but was still moved to North Sea Camp on January 21 this year, lasting just under a month before he absconded.
In 2000, just three weeks after being released from prison, Robson was sentenced to life in jail for attempted rape and indecent assault of a woman in Oxford.
He accessed the home of his 23-year-old victim through a cat flap, before tying her up, putting a pillow case over her head and sexually assaulting her at knife point, prompting the judge to describe him as a “menace to females” during his sentencing hearing.
Residents in the local area have voiced their concerns at the parole system, saying he should have been in a “much higher security prison” than an open facility in Lincolnshire.
Speaking to The Lincolnite on Wednesday, Boston & Skegness MP Matt Warman described the situation as a “system failure”, saying a prisoner with the criminal history of Robson should not have been put in an open prison like North Sea Camp.
Mr Warman said: “This isn’t the fault of North Sea Camp, this is a case of things going wrong with a prisoner being put in open conditions when they shouldn’t have been.
“It’s clearly an incredibly serious situation given his criminal record, and it’s obvious the system should have prevented it, which is why Dominic Raab’s review of the parole process can’t come soon enough.”
The Secretary of State for Justice, Mr Raab, took the decision to have more say in transfer of prisoners in the most high-risk cases as part of his review, according to the Ministry of Justice.
When asked what changes he would implement, Mr Warman said: “We must make sure people that are sentenced serve the sentences handed to them. In the case of Paul Robson, the judge said he should not be released until he poses no danger or is ‘so enfeebled by age’, which is clearly not the case in either sense.
“The parole board needs the power to keep the right people in the right prisons for the right amount of time, as well as having adequate resources. This is why we are building more prisons and recently expanded North Sea Camp.
“The right factors need to be taken into account, but ultimately in this instance it was not enough.”
The Boston and Skegness MP also told residents not to direct their anger at staff working at HMP North Sea Camp, saying they are all committed to their work.
“Being a prison officer is immensely tough, and we owe them as a society a lot of gratitude, I feel sometimes they don’t get the thanks or credit they deserve.
“It’s important for people feeling frustrated about the situation to direct their anger towards the system, which needs urgently fixing, rather than the staff themselves.”