POLICE say they are 'doing everything possible' to trace the growing number of prisoners who have absconded from an open prison near Uttoxeter.
There are currently 29 prisoners on the run from HMP Sudbury, a category open D prison where inmates are allowed to leave the site during the day to complete community orders and unpaid work assignments.
On Monday Asaf Mahmood became the latest inmate to fail to return to the prison, with Derbyshire Police appealing to members of the public for information that could lead to his arrest.
The 34-year-old was serving a sentence of three years and four months for two offences of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and five offences of false representation by Birmingham Crown Court in September 2013.
The prisoner is described by police as 5ft 11ins tall, of slim build with brown eyes.
He has connections in the Birmingham area.
The prison has received criticism for the number of inmates absconding, but assistant chief constable Martyn Bates says that police are doing everything they can to try and reduce the number of those failing to return.
He said: "We work closely with the prison authorities to try to reduce the number of absconders but security of the prison is a matter for the Ministry of Justice.
"When a prisoner fails to return to the prison, or is found to have absconded, prison staff alert the police and we take action to try to find the prisoner."
Derbyshire Police currently has a small dedicated team of officers who are involved in tracking down absconders from the prison, liaising with officers from other forces that have a greater knowledge of the criminal and the crimes they were sentenced for.
Local officers are also in charge of making immediate enquiries with both the prison and Sudbury area.
More often than not, offenders return to areas in which their families or friends reside.
ACC Bates said: "A photograph of each absconder is circulated to the media, and publicised on our police website, when a prisoner is reported missing.
"Regular checks are made on national databases to find any trace of these offenders."
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mahmood, or any of the other missing prisoners, is asked to call Derbyshire Police on 101 or independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.