A SEARCH has been launched after a female prisoner absconded from a jail near York.

North Yorkshire Police said Donna Willis left HMP Askham Grange near York on Wednesday, April 19, but her disappearance had only just been made public.

Willis, 36, was serving a five-year sentence following her conviction at Newcastle Crown Court for grievous bodily harm.

A police spokesman said Willis may have travelled north, and enquiries were largely focused around the Northumbria area.

Willis is white, 5ft 2ins tall and a slim build, with blonde and brown hair. She is originally from the Tyne and Wear area.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Public protection is our top priority. When an abscond takes place, police are immediately notified and are responsible for locating the offender.

"Those who do abscond are returned to much tougher, closed prisons where they will have to serve additional time."

Anyone with information about Willis’s whereabouts is urged not to approach her but to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 and select option 1, or dial 999 if the sighting is immediate.