February 17, 2022 5.11 pm

The story of how Paul Robson was captured by police in Skegness

He changed his appearance to evade manhunt

Paul Robson, the convicted sex offender who absconded from an open prison in Lincolnshire, was caught in Skegness on Thursday following a tip-off by the public, and police believe he did not commit any further offences in his time out of jail.

Robson, 56, absconded from HMP North Sea Camp near Boston in the early morning of Sunday, February 13 and was on the run for five days, prompting a nationwide manhunt.

He had been serving a life sentence for attempted rape and indecent assault in Oxford in 2000, when he broke into a 23-year-old woman’s house via a cat flap, tied her up and sexually assaulted her at knife point.

Residents nearby have said they aren’t sure why Robson was allowed in an open prison. | Photo: John Aron for The Lincolnite

Upon his absconding from prison, Lincolnshire Police said he “may be anywhere in the country” and confirmed that he posts “a real risk of causing significant harm”, which caused apprehension in the local community.

The man described as a “menace to females” was eventually located and arrested by six officers at Grand Parade in Skegness at 9.27am on Thursday morning, almost 100 hours after he was reported missing from North Sea Camp.

Paul Robson, 56, absconded from North Sea Camp near Boston on February 13. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Officers were made aware of Robson’s whereabouts by a concerned member of the public, who phoned the police to say that they saw him in Skegness. In a matter of moments, numerous officers were on the scene responding to the call.

A brief foot chase began before officers caught up with Robson and detained him on Grand Parade as he attempted to scurry away. He is now in police custody.

Upon his arrest, it was noted that Robson had shortened his beard from what he originally looked like in police’s first wanted appeal, perhaps so as to evade detection.

Kate Anderson is a Chief Superintendent at Lincolnshire Police. | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Chief Superintendent Kate Anderson at Lincolnshire Police told The Lincolnite that officers have no reason to believe that Robson had any accomplices on the outside, and they firmly believe he did not commit any further offences during his time on the run.

Chief Supt Anderson also added that the recapturing of Paul Robson would not have been possible without the immense support of both the public and the press.

She said: “First and foremost we have to say thank you to the public and the media, everyone was really helpful sharing updates and getting the information out there to go alongside our officers’ investigation work.

“Secondly we want to offer reassurance. Lincolnshire is an incredibly safe county and our job is to keep the public safe, so the best way to do that was to identify this man.

“There’s always personal pressure and a level of responsibility and public trust in cases like this, so actually the widespread press coverage actually might have encouraged the public to come forward. More police resources were needed but it was necessary to capture him.”

The next step will now be parallel investigations by the police and the Ministry of Justice to decide what is the best plan of action to deal with Robson, as many call for him to be placed in a higher security prison.

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman.

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman described it as a “system failure” to allow someone with the criminal history of Robson into open conditions, and he is one of over 100 prisoners to abscond from North Sea Camp in the last decade.

Mr Warman told The Lincolnite on Wednesday: “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.”