The Derby Evening Telegraph has claimed a victory after forcing police to release pictures of two convicted murderers who had been on the run from Sudbury Prison for nine weeks.
In November the Telegraph discovered the two murderers, Jason Croft and Michael Nixon, had escaped from the open prison and were on the run, but police and Sudbury Prison refused to release photographs of the two me.
Ever since, the Telegraph has been campaigning and lobbying to get the decision reversed. West Derbyshire MP Patrick McLoughlin gave the Telegraph his full backing, though home secretary John Reid and Tory shadow David Davis refused to talk to the paper.
The Telegraph then filed a Freedom of Information request which revealed 660 prisoners, more than the full capacity of the prison, had escaped from Sudbury in the past 10 years. Despite this the prison, at the end of last year, was considered to be a high performer and was rewarded with £25,000 from the Home Office. The Telegraph door-stepped the prison’s celebratory party.
Editor Steve Hall said: “Something seems clearly amiss with the judgement that is being made about the suitability of these prisoners to be in an open jail. There are major issues about what alert is given to the public when these guys go on the run.
“The prison and police didn’t even publicise the fact these two had gone on the run, it was only through local contacts that we discovered it, which seems outrageous.
“It has all finally come to a head now the national papers and the Lord Chancellor are involved.
“Derbyshire Police said they believed the convicts had gone back to Manchester and there was no purpose in releasing their pictures in Derbyshire. “Our argument all along was they didn’t know where they were, they were still on the run and even if they were not on the run the pictures should be released generally anyway, and certainly in Manchester.
“When responsibility for the release of the pictures switched from Derbyshire to Manchester it transpired that Manchester Police still wouldn’t release the pictures. It was only when it became a national scandal at the end of last week they overturned that decision and rather ironically put out a witness appeal as well.” This week the paper ran a story on another convict having gone on the run from Sudbury Prison.
The police have agreed to release a photograph.
The Telegraph also discovered this week that the prison service has no data base tracking who has gone on the run and who hasn’t.