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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners have absconded from each open prison in England in each year since 1997; how many have been recaptured; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: There have been 7,105 absconds from open prisons in England since 1 April 1997. A break down of the number of prisoners who have absconded from each open prison over the last five years is given in the following table.
Available data indicates that 356 prisoners remain unlawfully at large from those who absconded from English open prisons since one April 1997. The police are notified when prisoners abscond and their details are entered on the police national computer.
|Absconds from open prisons in England between 1997-98 and 2005-06.|
|North Sea Camp||Sudbury||Hollesley Bay||Askham Grange||East Sutton Park||Morton Hall||Ford||Standford Hill|
|Kirkham||Thorn Cross||Leyhill||Spring Hill||Hewell Grange||Moorland||Wealstun||Total|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people convicted of (a) murder, (b) rape and (c) robbery have absconded from English prisons in each year from 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Sutcliffe: Absconds can only take place from open prisons and only prisoners who are category D, the lowest security category, can be placed in open conditions. Open prisons take prisoners who are nearing completion of their sentence in preparation for their release. As part of the categorisation process prisoners are subject to a rigorous and robust risk assessment. Only those assessed as not being a risk to the public and of low risk of escape will be categorised as D.
Available data indicate that 1,018 prisoners have absconded since 1997 who were serving sentences for murder, rape or robbery. A break down of these is given in the following table. The police are notified when prisoners abscond and their details are entered on the police national computer.
|Prisoners convicted of murder, rape and robbery who absconded from English prisons between 1997 and 2006|
|Number of absconders convicted of murder||Number of absconders convicted of rape||Number of absconders convicted of robbery|
Nick Herbert: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners held in Ford prison while awaiting deportation or being considered for deportation (a) have absconded in 2006 and (b) absconded in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Sutcliffe [holding answer 5 June 2006]: To date in 2006, 61 prisoners have absconded from Ford open prisons. 33 of these are foreign nationals, 19 were being considered for enforcement proceedings by the immigration and nationality directorate and one was going to be deported. Information about the deportation status of prisoners who absconded prior to 2006 is not held centrally by the Prison Service and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many licence applications to the Security Industry Authority have been rejected in the last 12 months (a) because the form was not correctly completed, (b) because the accompanying documents were not adequate and (c) on substantive grounds because the applicant was not a person who should be licensed; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Coaker: This information is not held centrally. However, the Security Industry Authority has worked closely with the industry to implement changes which have successfully reduced the rejection rate from 50 per cent. in January 2006 to approximately 20 per cent. at the beginning of March. There are a little over 12,000 applications recorded as rejected and awaiting re-submission from the applicant. As at 31 May, 4,042 licences had been refused on substantive grounds, namely that the applicant had a criminal history.
Mr. Coaker: The Serious Organised Crime Agency was established on 1 April 2006 with a staff of around 4,300, the vast majority of whom came from the precursor agencies. SOCA has identified a shortage of up to 150 posts in some specific skills at grades 1-3, across operational and corporate services directorates, which it is now seeking to fill through external recruitment and internal promotion and staff moves.
Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 16 May 2006, to question number 71551, how many posts the Serious Organised Crime Agency is seeking to fill. 
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