- Inmates Relocated After Terror Suspect’s Escape from Wandsworth Prison
- Concerns About Understaffing and Overcrowding at HMP Wandsworth
- Calls for Independent Review of the Criminal Justice System Amidst Overcrowding Issues
After terror suspect Daniel Khalife fled, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said 40 Wandsworth prisoners were transported as a precaution.
About 40 convicts were moved after Daniel Khalife escaped Wandsworth jail in south London on Wednesday.
Khalife, 21, was apprehended on Saturday after being on the run for 75 hours.
The escape has raised concerns about alleged understaffing and overcrowding at HMP Wandsworth, as well as why Khalife was being held at the less secure Category B facility when the majority of terror suspects are held at the Category A HMP Belmarsh.
When repeatedly asked how many terror suspects are in Category B vs. Category A jails, Mr. Chalk couldn’t answer.
He stated, “What I can say about Wandsworth is that, out of an abundance of caution, I wanted to ensure that every resource is put into that prison and that its security is maintained, and that some remand prisoners have been moved.”
He stated that the transfers occurred this week and added, “Additional resources have been allocated to Wandsworth, and approximately 40 prisoners have been moved out of an abundance of caution.”
“Faltering and crowded”
Charlie Taylor, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, characterized Wandsworth prison as “extremely overcrowded.” One of several prisons “struggling to keep their heads above water.”
Built for 1,000 inmates, the “collapsing Victorian jail” reportedly houses “up to 1,600 prisoners at any given time.”
This overcrowding is increasing the strain on staff and “making it more difficult for prisoners to obtain the resources they need to advance,” such as education, training, and employment.
Mr. Taylor said, “When they are released from prison after their sentences, they will return to a pattern of recidivism.”
Mr. Taylor cited personnel shortages as the primary cause of Wandsworth’s problems, acknowledging that prisoners there “are locked up for 22 hours a day, and sometimes even more on weekends.”
The POA’s Mark Fairhurst praised the changes but noted that Wandsworth is still overcrowded and understaffed.
He told, “My last visit had 1,600 convicts and just 69 prison officers patrolling for their protection”.
Wandsworth is representative of what is occurring throughout the entire penitentiary estate. This government has slashed over £900 million from our finances, which will have repercussions.
The government has launched various inquiries and denies budget constraints caused the escape.
The term for prisons is ‘human warehousing’
This includes an investigation into the “placement and categorization” of all Wandsworth inmates. An investigation into all prisoners presently charged with terrorism-related offenses, and an independent investigation.
To address overcrowding, he suggested the government undertake an impartial study of the entire criminal justice system.
He stated, “We have individuals serving sentences of 12 months or less. Would they not be better served by rigorous community sentences?”
“We have over 3,000 IPP offenders who have not paid their fees. What are their potential uses?
This will create space and allow us to perform our duties and do our best to rehabilitate individuals. Currently, it is just a human repository, and that must change.”
Detectives believe the former British Army soldier escaped by securing himself to the underside of a delivery truck after departing the prison kitchen in a cook’s uniform.
Mr Chalk, discussing the preliminary findings of one of the evaluations he has issued, said the investigation has looked into whether protocols were in place relating to the unloading of food from a van and searching the delivery vehicle.
He stated that protocols were in existence, but “it remains to be determined whether these protocols were followed.”
You could not manage a fish-and-chip establishment the way the government is managed.
Mr. Chalk is the tenth justice secretary since the 2010 Conservative victory.
Rory Stewart, a former Conservative member of parliament and minister of prisons, deemed it “completely insane” that ministers are appointed to positions without any prior experience.
When he was appointed minister, he told Trevor Phillips on Sunday morning, I hadn’t spoken to a prisoner or prison officer in 20 years.
Stewart’s book Politics on the Edge is also about “being honest about how bad” the British political system is.
“Politicians are not inherently incompetent or stupid; rather, these jobs are insane.
“We must examine the American system, in which cabinet ministers are genuine professionals.”