An action plan from relevant authorities should help to ensure that far fewer escapes from correctional facilities take place in Denmark in the future, Minister of Justice Nick Hækkerup said to press on Wednesday.
Hækkerup is to ask the National Police, the Danish Prison Service (Kriminalforsorgen) and the public prosecution authority to provide recommendations and produce the plan in collaboration with health authorities.
“There have been too many prison escapes. Every time there is an escape from one of our prisons, detention centres or, as last week, from a psychiatric ward, it is a serious matter,” the minister said.
“It is totally unacceptable that we are seeing time and again that prisoners or detainees have succeeded in escaping,” he continued.
“It goes without saying that when a person is remanded in custody or serving a sentence, that person must be incarcerated, and unable to avoid this.
“It is part of our legal system that you have to take your punishment and serve it,” he said.
Last week, a prisoner escaped from a psychiatric ward in Slagelse in dramatic circumstances. Shots were fired at the floor during the escape operation, and hospital staff were threatened.
The episode is far from unique in Denmark. A 2018 Council of Europe report placed Denmark at number seven among its 47 member countries in relation to the number of escapes from open and closed prisons.
Denmark is in third place if the number of escapes from closed prisons only is considered.
“Every escape is one escape too many. But on the other hand, I think it would be too ambitious to think that we can get to a stage where there are no escapes at all,” Hækkerup said of his aims for the plan of action.
“But I am prepared to look at all options once the relevant authorities have provided their descriptions of the problem and what initiatives are needed. Because we need to stop prison breakouts,” Hækkerup said.