Residents living near an open prison have hit out at the length of time police took to inform them that two prisoners serving life sentences had absconded.
Police are still searching for Daniel Bryce, aged 31, and Jeremiah St Phorose, 27, who fled HMP Hatfield nearly two weeks ago.
The pair were serving indefinite life sentences – St Phorose for offences including burglary and wounding and Bryce for robbery and possession of a firearm.
Hatfield Town Councillor Mick Glynn said he was ‘astounded’ police waited 12 hours before alerting residents.
He added: “The first we heard of it was on Facebook.
“I’m astounded the police thought it was acceptable to wait. Residents have a right to know.
“There used to be a system in place whereby police contacted Hatfield Village Watch and then this would be passed to the local community but police are refusing to co-operate with us.
“Residents are understandably scared, especially when police are warning people not to approach these men. It doesn’t help when residents are the last to know, especially when the kids were off school at the time it happened.”
The incident comes after 18 offenders walked out of the prison last year.
Bryce and St Phorose are believed to have left the open prison together on the morning of Monday, March 28.
St Phorose, who is originally from Hull, has connections in Selby in West Yorkshire and in Humberside.
Bryce is originally from Nottinghamshire and has connections in the Nottingham and Worksop areas.
Coun Glynn said the incident highlighted the need to look again at the type of offenders being placed in open prisons.
He said: “I’d say residents are very tolerant but the police aren’t helping the situation by not informing residents at the earliest opportunity.
“I think the type of offenders who are being placed in these open prisons needs looking at and residents deserve to know where the system is going wrong.”
It comes just months after Doncaster MP Caroline Flint challenged the Justice Minister over the number of serious offenders walking out of open prisons.
Ms Flint met with the governor of HMP Hatfield in the summer to discuss concerns.
Doncaster Superintendent Neil Thomas said: “We acknowledge the concerns raised by Hatfield Town Council regarding the two prison absconders from Hatfield HMP & YOI.
“Time must be taken in the early stages of an investigation to establish all the facts and collate as much information as possible.
“A number of fundamental and lengthy enquiries are conducted when any initial report is received by police, which in this case included liaising closely with the prison to obtain any intelligence and information in relation to the absconders.
“Ascertaining whether the individuals may still even be in the local area is central to the investigation, as many do not have any connections to Hatfield, or even South Yorkshire as with this case. Various risk assessments are also made to determine the level of threat the individuals may pose and to ensure the safety of the public.
“All avenues have to be explored and assessments made to ensure there is an equal balance before a decision is made to release information into the public domain. Without fully investigating the incident or taking into consideration the circumstances, the information could cause unnecessary fear and distress and create unwarranted panic.”.
Anyone with information should call police on 101.