Group 4 let fourth prisoner escape: Company to be told by prisons chief to tighten up escort procedures

GROUP 4, which has a contract to run a prison escort service, allowed a fourth prisoner to escape in its first week of operations, it emerged yesterday - raising new doubts about the company's ability to do the job.

Stephen Binch, 20, who was being held on remand in Lincoln jail in connection with burglary charges, appeared at Mansfield magistrates court last Thursday on unrelated charges, and was then released.

Chief Superintendent Robin Searle, head of Mansfield police, said: 'At the time of his release he was under the care and control of Group 4. To have a person remanded to custody is difficult enough these days. To have him released in this way is to say the least disappointing. '

Michael Hirst, director of Group 4 court services, said that it was not known at the time that Binch was required to appear in another court. 'It must be appreciated that persons cannot be retained in custody without clear instructions from one of the criminal justice agencies on whose directions we act.'

Even before the Mansfield incident, Derek Lewis, head of the prison service, had said that he was concerned about the escapes. He has demanded an explanation from Group 4, launched an investigation and summoned executives to a meeting this week, when he will insist they tighten their procedures.

He will also look at the role of the Prison Officers Association. Sources say that some members may have added to Group 4's troubles by being extremely un-cooperative in the release of prisoners.

The Prison Service said yesterday: 'We are extremely concerned about this escape. It will be on the agenda when the director general talks to Group 4. We cannot pre-empt what he might have to say.'

Group 4 has a five-year contract covering prison escort work in North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Humberside, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Last Monday, the first day of the contract, a prisoner fled from Hull magistrates' court and was on the run for two days. The next day a prisoner being escorted from Lincoln Prison to Spalding magistrates' court forced open a hatch in a van and escaped. He was recaptured 15 minutes later.

On Thursday, Gary Salesman, 20, who was being escorted from court in Derby escaped through a van window.

Group 4 has responsibility for 100,000 prisoner movements a year. The Home Office is responsible for monitoring the escort service. Officials send private reports to the prison service agency.

Leading article, page 15

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect