Why was dangerous sex offender Paul Robson in an open prison?

It was after fleeing Abingdon Road bail hostel in Oxford following a punch-up with another offender that dangerous sex offender Paul Robson committed what was described as one of the most serious in Oxford in recent years.

Despite a record showing each time he is released from prison he carries out more assaults, he has yet again been able to abscond from an open prison sparking a nationwide manhunt.

Here we look at the timeline of events which has led to Robson once again being on the run.


2000: Robson carries out a sickening attack on a woman in her home. Breaking into the 23-year-old woman’s house through a cat flap, he sexually assaulted her at knifepoint before running away from his sobbing victim of her. This sparked a major manhunt with Robson becoming Britain’s most wanted man.
Extra police were brought in and there were warnings he could strike again as forces throughout the country were put on alert.
Officers caught him 48 hours later, on a canal path between Oxford and Banbury.

2000: Robson pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted rape and two of indecent assault. He was handed a life sentence with a minimum term of nine years.

2000-2021: Despite his initial sentence, Robson spent an additional 11 years in prison.

2021: During his fifth parole review, Robson was refused release but recommended for a move to the Category D open prison.
A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “The Parole Board refused the release of Paul Robson but recommended a move to an open prison conditions following an oral hearing in February 2021.
“This was a recommendation only and the Secretary of State for Justice considers the advice before making the final decision on whether a prisoner is suitable for open conditions.
“We will only make a recommendation for open conditions if a Parole Board panel is satisfied that the risk to the public has been reduced sufficiently to be manageable in an open prison.
“A move to open conditions involves testing the prisoner’s readiness for any potential return into the community in the future. Prisoners moved to open conditions can be returned to closed conditions if there is concern about their behaviour.”

2022: At 7am on Sunday, February 13, Robson was reported missing from HMP North Sea Camp near Boston, sparking a second nationwide manhunt.

What is an open prison?

Open prisons trust prisoners to complete their sentences with minimal supervision and security.

Prisoners are often not locked up in a cell and may even be permitted to get a job while seeing out the remainder of their sentence.

Moving from closed prisons to open can be used as part of the rehabilitation process and are meant for those prisoners now considered a low risk to the public.

A prisoner may be moved back to a closed prison if their behavior or actions cause any concerns.


Paul Robson “could be anywhere in the country”

Robson is described as a white male with a bald head, a long goatee beard and of slim build. If you do think you see him, do not approach.

Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Cox said: “We are still working tirelessly to locate Paul Robson and are still working through numerous lines of inquiry.

“He could be anywhere in the country, and we are really keen to hear from the public with potential sightings so we can take this man off our streets.

“Robson is a dangerous sex offender and while he presents a particular danger to women and young children, I believe he can cause real harm to anyone he comes across.

“If you see Robson, please do not approach him, and do not try to apprehend him yourself. Call 999 immediately.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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