Vantaa Prison fugitive recaptured in Tallinn
Evidence points to human error in allowing escape
The man who escaped last Friday over the wall of the Vantaa Prison - an establishment built in 2002 and regarded as one of Finland’s most secure and modern facilities - was recaptured on Thursday just outside Tallinn, in Estonia.
The prison warden Tuomo Junkkari confirmed to the late-edition tabloid ltalehti that the fugitive had been apprehended, but had no further details on the matter.
The Estonian man, who was not described as dangerous and was a remand prisoner being held in connection with auto thefts, actually escaped last Friday, but his absence was not noticed until Saturday afternoon.
In order to make his escape, he had used a rope made apparently of knotted sheets and a piece of bent pipe to scale the 6-metre wall, and had also climbed two 4-metre fences and avoided detection by security cameras or trip-wires planted in the ground.
Two of the fences are topped with razor wire, and prior to this nobody had managed to escape from the secure facility.
The realisation that sophisticated CCTV systems apparently failed to detect the escape and the prisoner’s absence was not noticed for more than 24 hours has raised serious questions about manning at the prison in Hakkila, and about the limits to technological solutions for keeping inmates within the walls.
The equipment should be motion-sensitive and any camera detecting movement should override other images on the control-room monitors. This in turn should attract the attention of a guard in the control room - if the control room happens to be manned at the time.
It has also been noted that the Vantaa Prison is seriously understaffed, and several of the guards on duty are short on training.
The escapee will be returned to Finland in the next day or two, and will be placed back in the Vantaa remand facility.
In the latest development in this story, it has been reported that a guard on duty outside while other prisoners were exercising should have been in a position to spot the escape and report it on the Friday morning.
Equally, the security system indicated a possible breach of the prison perimeter, but a guard in the control room switched off the alarms in the belief that it was a false alarm.
The subsequent non-presence of the prisoner at lock-up was put down to his being absent for a court appearance or some other reason. The matter went unchecked.
Apparently in addition to the clear human errors involved, there were some shortcomings in the security systems themselves, but these did not materially assist in the success of the escape.
Nothing so far indicates that the errors by prison staff were deliberate with the intention of allowing the prisoner to abscond, but the incident is clearly an embarrassment to all concerned..
Finnish Prison Service