AWOL John Howard centre detainee has his passport and may flee country

Safdar Shah

Safdar Shah - Credit: Archant

Police say a “potentially violent and dangerous” mental patient who has absconded from a mental health unit has his passport on him and may try to flee the country.

Scotland Yard has renewed appeals to trace paranoid schizophrenic Safdar Shah, who is the latest in a string of detainees to have gone missing from the John Howard Centre in Kenworthy Road.

Shah was last seen at around 11.30am yesterday morning at the post office in Homerton High Street, whilst on escorted leave from the John Howard Centre in Kenworthy Road.

Last summer the John Howard Centre bowed to pressure and announced it would electronically tag detainees on escorted leave, after the third patient went missing in as many months.

But Shah, who was seeing running along Fenn Street after he escaped, was not tagged.

Police say Shah suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, requiring daily medication to control the condition.

Without it they have warned his condition could deteriorate and he may become violent.

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DI Paul Ridley from Hackney CID said tracing Shah is his “absolute priority”.

“My investigation team are completing extensive enquiries to try to locate this potentially dangerous and unpredictable man,” he said.

“The risk he poses to the public exacerbates the longer he is without his medication.

“I would again reiterate that Shah has a history of violence and should not be approached by the public.

“If you see him please call police immediately on 999, so that officers can take appropriate action.”

A spokesman for the John Howard Centre said the plan is to roll out the electronic tagging of detainees on escorted leave by the end of the month.

“From receiving the electronic monitors and setting them up to work within the service, we have had a pilot on four of the wards now for three months,” she said.

“The pilot had several glitches at the beginning due to the technology which we have now ironed out.”

In November police offered a reward of £1,000 to anyone who could help trace prolific burglar Peter Kerrigan who has now been on the run for 10 months, since he security guards the slip whilst on escorted leave from the centre.