Burglaries in Hackney shot up when child snatcher Shane Hart went on the run

Police have warned the public not to approach Shane Hart.

Police have warned the public not to approach Shane Hart. - Credit: Archant

Burglaries in Hackney doubled the day child kidnapper Shane Hart went missing, after police resources were diverted into tracking him down.

The child snatcher – who is the subject of a hospital order following his conviction in 1994 for false imprisonment and taking a child without lawful authority – was on escorted leave outside the John Howard medium secure psychiatric unit when he went on the run two weeks ago.

Police revealed that instead of phoning 999 the two escorts accompanying Hart informed the first police officer they found as they were searching for him, after he gave them the slip in Brooksby’s Walk, Homerton.

It was the second time Hart had absconded from the centre in nearby Kenworthy Road while on escorted leave in the past five years, and he was only found by Hackney police two days later on Friday after a massive operation.

The 54-year old is the third high-profile offender to go missing from the centre in the past year, with rapist Samuel Lee not returning from unescorted leave in June and convicted murderer Lerone Boye escaping from the centre itself last October.

Hackney’s Borough Commander Ch Supt Simon Laurence said security measures were being put in place to make sure similar incidents do not happen again.

“It’s not just the danger to the public that they pose but it’s the waste of police resources when we could be in the community investigating other crime,” he said.

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“The amount of resource and time that went into that 36 hours is just incredible.”

Police were taken away from burglary patrols too, and that night 11 burglaries took place, double the average figure.

Along with the senior leadership team, there were 24 officers actively seeking him, plus local officers engaged in the search as well as detectives.

Police are also working with the John Howard centre on reducing violence there.

On average three or four incidents take place each week, mostly involving patients assaulting other patients or staff.

New protocols are likely to form a Met pilot for a framework of improving co-operation with mental health units in the capital.

Hackney’s CID team spent a month hunting Lerone Boye before the investigation was centralised, with six to 12 detectives working 16-hour days on the case.

The centre, which specialises in prisoners with personality disorders, has been the subject of multiple investigations due to the number of escapes.