TONGA’S Police Commander Chris Kelley has ordered an inquiry into Tonga’s prison escapes saying today that it is of serious concern to the police that over the past eight weeks 13 escapes were reported to them. Most escapees had been recaptured while two remained at large. A police operation has searched houses and locations day and night over the past weeks in the search for Sione Movete Uatekini (24) of Tatakamotonga and Peni ‘Inia (20) of Tu’anuku, Vava’u, residing at Ma’ufanga, who escaped the “maximum security” house at Hu’atolitoli Prison on July 22. The Police Unit at Fua’amotu International Airport is on alert for the two men while surveillance is being carried out around the Nuku’alofa port. “But we have no evidence that the prisoners have left Tonga at this point in time. We presume they are still here in Tongatapu and we are continuing to look for them,” said Cmdr Kelley The fact that they are prisoners posed a real threat and risk to the community and a result, the Commander said he had ordered an inquiry to look into the matter. “The main concern for me is the bigger picture and I have ordered an inquiry to the escapes and assigned a senior police officer to inquire into how and why these escapes are occurring and whether we could lay further charges and what offences have been committed.” He said the police inquiry would interview firstly the recaptured escapees to determine the means of escape, what they did while they were on the run and what information and evidence of offences they might have committed. Response Group Commander Kelley said when escapes were reported to them they activated a Technical Response Group of 21, which they do not deploy at one time. Although he did not want to disclose detail of their operational tactics in their pursuit of the two escapees as it might alert them, he reassured the public that the police are actively looking for the escapees. Responsibility The Commander said that the responsibility for prisoners lies with the prison and the Superintendent of Prisons and in recent times there had been a number of escapes both from minimum security prisons and from the more secure areas. But he was happy that the recovery of previous escapees had been quite good since they found them in a short period after their escapes, a joint effort in conjunction with prison officers. A systematic search meant they were putting in a lot of effort from their resources and manpower, he said. “I am confident that these two prisoners at large will be located but what concerns me more is the fact they are escaping and why they are escaping and that is a matter for the prison to look at”, the Commander said.