UK & World News

  • 6 July 2014, 22:44

Two Men Escape From Open Prison In Lancashire

Two inmates - one serving a sentence for firearms offences - are on the run after absconding from an open prison in Lancashire.

Philip Stephenson, 33, and Gareth Robinson, 24, both from the Oldham area, fled together from HMP Kirkham on Saturday.

Robinson was in prison for burglary, Greater Manchester Police said.

Stephenson, according to the Oldham Chronicle, had been charged with selling or transferring an illegal firearm and possession of ammunition.

They are believed to have got into a silver Volkswagen Golf before heading in the direction of Oldham.

Anyone who offers the men help has been warned they may face action themselves.

Detective Chief Inspector John Mazzolai said: "Neither of these men has been seen since they escaped from prison on Saturday.

"They are not to be approached by members of the public, but if anyone sees them or knows of their whereabouts, please contact GMP on 101 immediately.

"If you would prefer to pass on information anonymously, then you can do this by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

"I would also like to remind people that if anyone is found to be assisting or harbouring these wanted men, they too will face being arrested and a possible prison sentence of their own. So please get in touch if you know where they are."

Open prisons have sparked controversy in recent months after a spate of incidents when inmates have gone on the run.

In the most high-profile case, Michael Wheatley, who is known as the "Skull Cracker", carried out a raid on a building society while on the run from HMP Standford Hill in Kent in May.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said swift action was being taken to try to stop future incidents,

"The Justice Secretary has been clear that keeping the public safe is our priority and has ordered immediate and major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.

"Absconds have reached record lows under this Government - down 80% over the last 10 years - but each and every incident is taken seriously, with the police contacted as a matter of urgency."

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