Shocking number of escapees from Homerton mental health unit revealed
06:56 24 February 2014
More than 200 patients have escaped from the same mental health unit which saw murderer Lerone Boye abscond last October, shock figures reveal.
Data obtained through a freedom of information (FOI) request show 211 individuals under supervision at the John Howard Centre in Kenworthy Road, Homerton, have gone absent without leave since 2001. They include murderers, sex offenders and kidnappers.
Aside from Boye, convicted in 2012 for the murder of 17-year-old Kelvin Chibueze, those who have fled the unit include sex offender James Manley in 2003, child-kidnapper Shane Hart in 2009 and Shane Smith, convicted of beating and raping a schoolgirl, in 2012.
Manley, who is considered a major threat to women, was only found after he turned himself in.
Boye was captured by police after a three-month long manhunt, including the offer of a £15,000 reward.
Meanwhile Smith and Hart were returned to custody after six weeks, and a day, respectively.
However, other absentees have never been found – these include James Lisbon, who went missing after he failed to return from unescorted leave in August last year.
The centre, which specialises in prisoners with personality disorders, has been the subject of multiple investigations due to the number of escapes.
The most recent followed Boye absconding and the charges against a staff member of assisting the offender.
Boye had been transferred to the medium secure unit from HMP Whitemoor a few weeks before his escape.
Broken down, the figures show 95 patients have absconded since 2009, 68 between 2004 and 2009, and 48 between 2001 and 2004.
A spokesman from the John Howard Centre said: “Patients may be allowed periods of time outside the unit, as part of an individual’s rehabilitation and planned treatment programme.
“This only happens after a comprehensive risk assessment. This is reviewed prior to each episode of leave.
“If a patient who has been granted leave does not return at the agreed time, we have clear processes for our staff to follow to ensure their safe return to the unit.”
Speaking in 2012, Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity SANE, said: “Places of asylum such as the John Howard Centre have a duty of care to patients – and to the general public – and it is worrying that so many should have absconded, leaving the police to locate them.”