February 15, 2022 4.00 pm

Over 100 prisoners abscond from HMP North Sea Camp in last decade

But numbers are dropping every year

Over 100 prisoners have absconded from HMP North Sea Camp near Boston in the last decade, the same prison which dangerous sex offender Paul Robson was reported missing from this month.

Last year, absconds were at their second lowest nationally since 1995, with 101 taking place, which was down from a peak of 1,301 in 2003-2004. Despite this drop, this is still a big concern considering the sentences that several of the absconders were serving in Lincolnshire alone, including rape, indecent assault and other sex offences.

An abscond is described as an “escape that does not involve overcoming a physical security restraint such as that provided by a wall or fence, locks, bolts or bars, a secure vehicle, handcuffs or the direct supervision of staff”. It is only possible to abscond from open prison conditions and absconds are monitored to analyse the frequency across the open state and identify any trends nationally.

The Ministry of Justice produced data via the HMPPS Incident Reporting System for the number of absconds in England and Wales for the 12 months ending March 1996 to the 12 months ending March 2021.

The Ministry of Justice were asked if they would like to provide a response regarding the prison absconders data for HMP North Sea Camp, but there was no reply by the time of publication.

The data shows that 114 prisoners absconded from HMP North Sea Camp between 2012 and 2021, which is broken down as follows:

  • 2012 – 24
  • 2013 – 28
  • 2014 – 18
  • 2015 – 13
  • 2016 – 10
  • 2017 – 6
  • 2018 – 5
  • 2019 – 4
  • 2020 – 2
  • 2021 – 4

The Ministry of Justice later confirmed that Robson was the second prisoner to abscond from HMP North Sea Camp in 2022. The first happened in January and the absconder was later recaptured.

Data showing prison absconds for 2020-21. | Graphic: Ministry of Justice

It is also noted in the data that since May 2014, prisoners with a history of escape, absconding or serious temporary release failure during the current sentence have been prevented from transfer to open conditions, other than in the most exceptional circumstances.

This data includes what was previously given in response to The Lincolnite’s Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Justice back in 2019, which asked how many prisoners had absconded and escaped from prisons in Lincolnshire over a five year period.

Lincolnshire prison absconder case studies

Paul Robson

Robson had only been released from prison on licence three weeks before a terrifying attack on a woman in Oxford in 2000. He was given a life sentence in 2000 for the attempted rape and indecent assault of his victim.

Robson’s tariff expired in August 2009 and in February 2021 the Parole Board recommended a move to open conditions after rejecting his release. The move was confirmed in June 2021, but Robson didn’t actually arrive at HMP North Sea Camp until January 21 this year.

The 56-year-old absconded from HMP North Sea Camp less than a month later, on Sunday, February 13, and was reported missing at 7am that morning, prompting an urgent appeal from Lincolnshire Police. By the time of publication, Robson was still at large.

This week, the Ministry of Justice said “there will now be greater scrutiny of Parole Board recommendations on open prison moves”.

Once captured, Robson will return to closed prison and it will be a further two years before he is eligible for parole again. The fact that he has absconded will make it difficult for him to convince the Parole Board that he is suitable for release or open conditions.

Brian McBride

Brian McBride. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

An inmate serving a life sentence for sex offences was found in a car 35 miles away after going on the run back in June 2019.

Brian McBride, who had spent over 20 years in jail, disappeared after being allowed day release from North Sea Camp Open Prison on June 25 to carry out a work placement at a church in the nearby town of Boston. However, he failed to return to the open prison and police went on the hunt for the 52-year-old.

In July 2019, he admitted a charge of remaining at large after being given temporary release from a life prison sentence on June 25 this year. He was jailed for four months.

In November last year a prison worker who had a personal relationship with McBride, and let him stay at her home overnight when he went on the run, was jailed for 10 months. Angela Pauley admitted having an inappropriate relationship with McBride, and the convicted sex offender was found in her car after spending two days at large.

Stephen Tierney

Stephen Tierney absconded from HMP North Sea Camp. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Convicted rapist Stephen Tierney absconded from the same prison after failing to return to HMP North Sea Camp on July 3, 2019. At the time he was described as posing a medium risk of violence.

Police put out an appeal to try and help find him, while Crimestoppers offered a reward of up to £1,000 for any information given exclusively to them that led to his arrest.

He was arrested later the same month in the Haverstock Hill area of London for breaching his prison licence conditions under the Prison Act before being returned to a secure prison. A 33-year-old man was arrested at the time on suspicion of assisting an offender before later being released on bail.

Levi Mitchell & Charley Oakley

Prison absconders Levi Mitchell and Charley Oakley have now been caught and charged. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

In November 2020, two prison absconders from HMP North Sea Camp – Levi Mitchell and Charley Oakley – were caught and charged.

Levi Mitchell, 36, who was serving a sentence for conspiracy to commit burglary, absconded from HMP North Sea Camp in October 2020.

Charley Oakley, 28, of North Street in Burwell, who was also serving a sentence for conspiracy to commit burglary, absconded from HMP North Sea Camp in July 2020.

The two men were jailed after a hearing at Cambridge Crown Court in October 2021, according to the Ely Standard. The report states that Oakley was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison after pleading guilty to handling stolen goods and escaping lawful custody, while Mitchell was jailed for two years for the same charges.