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UK Murderers Escape ‘Open Prison’ – No Photos!

A story sure to warm the hearts of Michael Dukakis fans everywhere, from the UK’s Times:


Croft and Nixon

Police reason for not issuing photos of runaway killers ‘is just nonsense’

Richard Ford, Home Correspondent

Pictures of two murderers on the run from jail were released last night after the Lord Chancellor criticised a police force for suggesting that the Human Rights Act prevented their publication.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC, dismissed the suggestions by Derbyshire police as “absolute nonsense” and demanded an explanation of their refusal to release the pictures.

“When you are dealing with two convicted murderers, both of whom have absconded, it is utterly obvious that there is no public interest arising out of the Human Rights Act which prevents publication,” Lord Falconer said.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) also said yesterday that the photos should be published if the men were considered a danger to the public. It said that the Human Rights Act explicitly allowed police to print “wanted” pictures if it was in the public interest.

The row plunged the Government into controversy over its Human Rights Act.

Lord Falconer intervened after Derbyshire Constabulary decided not to release pictures of Jason Croft and Michael Nixon, both 28, who absconded from Sudbury open prison in November. Croft, also known as Jason Fox, from Salford, and Nixon, of Blackley, Manchester, were near the end of life sentences for murder and had been given day release and allowed home visits.

Croft was given a life sentence in 1996 after stabbing a youth in the chest as he lay unconscious in a street in Moston, Manchester.

Nixon was also jailed for life in 1996 after he dropped a concrete block on a teenager’s head in the Newton Heath area of the city.

Derbyshire police said that a number of factors had been considered in reaching the decision, including the possibility that publication breached the prisoners’ human rights.

The force also insists that the two men pose a minimal risk to the public as they had been assessed as low risk before the Prison Service transferred them from a closed to an open prison.

As the Derbyshire force continued its stance, the Greater Manchester force released the images last night. A spokesman for the DCA said: “Nothing in the Human Rights Act prevents publishing the photograph of an escaped criminal if he presents a danger to the public. On the contrary, the Act explicitly allows public authorities to limit an individual’s right to privacy in the interests of public safety or for the prevention of crime. It is merely common sense, as well as the law, that the right to personal privacy can be restricted to facilitate the identification and capture of an escaped criminal, particularly in cases where there is a danger to the public.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office, the department responsible for access to, and the protection of, information, also said that data protection rules cannot be used as a reason not to release the images.

Neither of the two escapers is thought to be still in Derbyshire.

A police spokesman said: “When making a decision to release any photograph, police forces must take into account numerous factors, including the public interest test, whether there is a strong local policing purpose and, of course, the Human Rights and Data Protection Acts.

“Photographs of named people that are in police possession are classed as data and their release is restricted by law.

“Association of Chief Police Officers guidance states that releasing a ‘wanted’ photograph of a named person should only happen in exceptional circumstances where officers believe that the named suspect may be a danger to the public.”

Acpo said that it did not have specific guidance in a case such as this.

Croft has been missing since October 31 and Nixon since he failed to appear at roll call on November 2.

Moreover, all of this only came out after a local newspaper in Yorkshire filed a freedom of information request to find out how many convicts were on the loose from the local "open prison."

From the Yorkshire Post:

Murderers among 13 on run from an open prison

5 January 2007

Two murderers are among 13 inmates to have absconded from an open jail in two months.

Derbyshire Police released the figures for Sudbury Prison for October and November last year after a request made under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.

Criminals still at large include convicted murderers Jason Croft and Michael Nixon, both aged 28 and from Manchester.

Croft has been missing since October 31 while Nixon has not been seen since he failed to appear at roll call on November 2.

Derbyshire Police released the information after a local newspaper made an FoI request – but the force refused to release photographs of the absconders.

So the public at large would have never heard anything about any of this if not for that plucky local newspaper.

To review: two murderers who had been given life sentences were allowed to serve their time in a "open prison" where they could come and go as they please.

Then, when they decided to take it on the lam, the UK police thought it was a violation of their "human rights" to publish their photographs.

And the fact that these two murderers and eleven others have escaped from this "open prison" would have never seen the light of day if it hadn’t been for a local newspaper asking some questions in a FOIA request.

Indeed, subsequent reports have said that nobody really knows how many people have escaped from these "open prisons."

Will there always be an England?

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, January 7th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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