To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 8 November 2000,Official Report, column 255W, on open prisons, how many absconders from open prisons have been caught and re-imprisoned since 1997: how many of these were returned to open prisons; what steps he is taking to reduce the number of absconders; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Boateng
The number of absconds from open prisons that have been caught and re-imprisoned are given in the table.
Year Absconders Recaptures 1997 720 539 1998 607 561 1999 570 459 20001 434 296 1 Up to 6 November
The change in the figures given in my answer of 8 November 2000, Official Report, column 255W, for the numbers of absconds is due to additional information being inputted onto the Incident Reporting System.
The categorisation system seeks to ensure that prisoners who cannot be trusted not to abscond are not placed in open prisons. If, within an open prison, there are indications that a prisoner is going to abscond or abuse the trust placed in him or her, action can be taken to recategorise the prisoner and he or she may be returned to closed conditions. The Governor of each open prison is set a key performance target by his or her Area Manager, requiring absconds to be reduced below a certain level agreed for that prison.
Those recaptured may be placed in closed or open prisons. A breakdown of the numbers returned to each can be provided only at disproportionate cost. I invite the hon. Member to write to me if he would like advice on a particular case.