Tagging victory after John Howard Centre’s latest AWOL escape

John Howard Centre in Hackney

John Howard Centre in Hackney - Credit: Archant

A centre for mentally ill prisoners has bowed to pressure and announced it will adopt the idea to tag detainees on escorted leave, after the third patient went missing this year in as many months.

Anthony Abolarionwa was the latest in a long line of offenders to give his minders the slip whilst on a a break from secure unit the John Howard Centre in Kenworthy Road, Homerton, last month

At the time the Gazette asked Dr Paul Gilluley, head of forensic services at the centre, if tagging patients had ever been considered, but he said no. But he said management would consider the idea, which was supported by MP Meg Hillier, as well as the police who said they would also raise the issue with the unit.

But last week the police had to launch yet another manhunt, after schizophrenic Jason Peirara, absconded on Tuesday afternoon and wasn’t traced until three days later.

And Peter Kerrigan, 26, an Irish Traveller dubbed one of ‘Britain’s most prolific burglars’ who would target vulnerable pensioners dressed as a police officer, is still at large after going AWOL in March.

After the latest absconsion, the Gazette asked the East London NHS Foundation Trust whether it had made a decision on electronic tagging surveillance, and this week it announced it will be implemented in the summer.

Acting chief inspector Ian Simpkins said: “Anything that helps improve the security of their detainees, is a good thing from our perspective, any consideration given that saves our resources is good thing.”

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

A Freedom of Information request revealed 200 criminals have absconded whilst under the care of the medium secure psychiatric unit in the past decade. Last October child snatcher Shane Hart, 54, was with two escorts when he gave them the slip – the second time he had disappeared whist on escorted leave within the space of five years. He found two days later after a massive operation.

And schizophrenic Samuel Lee who is serving time for raping a disabled woman, was described by the police as “violent” when he absconded for three days while on unsupervised leave last June.

Last month Dr Paul Gilluley apologised for the absconsions. He said: “I acknowledge the offender’s history would frighten the public particularly relating to the sexual offences, but in all those cases we have tried to manage the risks while rehabilitating back into the community.”