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Crimewatch leads on jail van escape

Detectives hunting a murder suspect who escaped from a prison van are following up several calls from the public after appealing for information on BBC1's Crimewatch.

John Anslow was freed on Monday when three men wearing balaclavas attacked the van in Worcestershire. Police received 60 calls prior to the Crimewatch appeal and a number of other calls during and after the programme.

Anslow, 31, from the Tipton area of the West Midlands, escaped shortly after leaving HMP Hewell, near Redditch, while being taken to Stafford Crown Court. Thursday night's programme featured photographs of Anslow and the Volkswagen Scirocco used by the offenders who attacked the van using sledgehammers.

Detective Superintendent Martin Evans, who is overseeing the inquiry, said: "We have received several calls into the incident room and detectives have already begun to examine this latest information.

"Our dedicated team of detectives will now follow up these lines of inquiry. We'd already had over 60 calls from across the country prior to Crimewatch so the response from the public has been really encouraging.

"We remain determined to catch Anslow and are continuing to liaise with other forces and agencies nationwide. Our officers are working closely with colleagues at West Mercia and West Midlands police forces. We want to speak to anyone who knows where Anslow might be."

Mr Evans added: "There's obviously a possibility that he's travelled abroad or may be planning to do so. If this is the case, there will be people who know about it and we want to speak to them. The offer of a £10,000 reward is a good incentive for people to pick up the phone and all calls will be treated in the strictest confidence."

It is known that the offenders used a silver Volkswagen Scirocco - registration BT59 NXC - before switching to a silver Mercedes, which may have been a C-Class model, with the partial registration KR11.

Mr Evans continued: "We need to talk to anybody who saw these vehicles on Monday or who has seen the Mercedes since."

Anyone with information should ring the inquiry incident room on 01785 235051 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Members of the public are advised not to approach Anslow, who is considered to be very dangerous, and anyone who sees him should dial 999 immediately.

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