Around 40 inmates moved out of HMP Wandsworth amid probe into how terror suspect Daniel Khalife was able to escape the ageing south-west London prison
Around 40 inmates have been moved out of HMP Wandsworth in the wake of terror suspect Daniel Khalife’s escape from the south-west London prison.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk revealed the action had been taken ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid a probe into how Khalife was able to stage a jail break.
The 21-year-old remains in police custody after being dramatically arrested in another part of the capital yesterday after four days on the run.
His escape has led to intense scrutiny of Britain’s ageing prisons, including questions over why Khalife was being held in a Category B rather than a Category A jail.
Mr Chalk this morning said the preliminary findings of his investigation in HMP Wandsworth had found the correct ‘protocols’ were in place during Khalife’s escape.
But he admitted there was still a question over whether those protocols had been followed.
Khalife is believed to have been dressed in a cook’s uniform and used strapping to cling to the underside of a food delivery vehicle that left HMP Wandsworth on 6 September.
Mr Chalk told Sky News: ‘Out of an abundance of caution, some prisoners there – some of those on remand – have been moved.
‘Additional resources have, of course, gone into Wandsworth, so there’s additional governor support, a former governor with particular expertise in security.
‘But also, out of an abundance of caution, around 40 prisoners have been moved just while we get to the bottom of what took place in Wandsworth.
‘That is a sensible, precautionary measure.’
Discussing the preliminary findings of a review he ordered in the wake of Khalife’s escape, Mr Chalk revealed the probe looked into whether protocols were in place relating to the unloading of food from a van and searching the delivery vehicle.
‘Those protocols were in place, point one,’ he said.
‘And point two, the relevant security staff were also in place. Plainly what we’ve yet to establish is whether those protocols were followed.’
The Justice Secretary said he will set out the terms of reference ‘next week’ of the separate independent investigation to ensure that the conclusions are ‘rock solid’.
Charlie Taylor, the chief inspector of prisons, admitted HMP Wandsworth was ‘failing’ in a similar way to ‘most inner city Victorian local prisons’.
He told the BBC: ‘I think Wandsworth is failing typical of most inner city Victorian local prisons of which there is still a huge amount that are open.
‘There are three things really, it’s about having enough staff of the right quality. It’s about the level of overcrowding that you have.
‘I think Wandsworth is 600 over what it was originally designed for. It’s about, 1,600 prisoners, and that means lots of people sharing cells that were originally designed for one person.
‘And the third thing is about prisoners having enough to do and what we found when we inspected Wandsworth last year was that people were largely locked in their cells for up to 22 hours a day and sometimes even worst at the weekends.’
Former Tory MP Rory Stewart, an ex-prisons minister, said Khalife would have received some sort of ‘collusion and support’ to aid his escape.
‘In this particular case, it seems clear if he had strapping underneath this vehicle, that there was some kind of collusion and support,’ he told Sky News.
‘But it’s also clear that they seemed to spend, I don’t know, half an hour/45 minutes before they even noticed he was gone from the kitchen, and he shouldn’t be in the kitchen in the first place.’
Khalife was awaiting trial after allegedly planting a fake bomb at an RAF base and gathering information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK.