MP slams state of Wandsworth prison after British soldier Daniel Khalife escapes

The prison that former British soldier Daniel Khalife escaped from has been slammed by an MP who said at times there were only seven people looking after the 1,500 inmates.

The MP for Tooting, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, told South London Press that there had been an “erosion of resources and staffing” in the past 13 years at Wandsworth prison.

Mr Khalife escaped from the prison on Wednesday at around 7.50am where he was awaiting trial for terror offences. It is believed he went missing in his cook’s uniform and escaped using makeshift straps to tie himself to the underside of a grocery van which then drove him out of the prison.

Ms Allin-Khan has said she will be “taking the Government to task over what’s happened in Wandsworth”.

“It’s deeply concerning,” she said. “The number one priority must be to apprehend him. But the wider question is how was this able to happen and how can we make sure it doesn’t happen again?”

“A few months ago [the issues at Wandsworth prison] came to my attention and I looked at the data and went to the prison myself and discovered how understaffed they are.

“There was a night shift in December which had only seven people turn up for the shift for 1,500 inmates and the way they made up the shortfall was by requesting that people who had already worked did extra shifts.

“There was also a period where the prison was without running water for six days. Those are extremely unsanitary conditions to be an inmate but also in which to work.

“It’s my understanding that it is very unlikely that someone who has escaped tried to stay in the vicinity for very long. I want to reassure the people of South London that the police are trying incredibly hard to find him.”

Anatoly Cicin, who works at removals company Promover limited said he would “think twice about being out in Wandsworth”.

“It’s extremely unpleasant,” he said. “I know all the local area and it’s a quiet place. A peaceful place. I would have never thought something like this could happen.

“But if someone runs away there’s little chance they will still be in the area.”

Mr Cicin, whose company shares parking spaces with employees at Wandsworth prison, said that at night time there is “hardly anyone there”.

“At night time it’s really empty,” he said. “I would expect more staff. It sounds unbelievable that they have that many people looking after all those prisoners.

“Hopefully it will be a big lesson for the prisoners and never happen again.”

An employee at the Magdalen Park Lawn Tennis Club in Magdalen Road, which is one road over from the prison, said there had been a big increase in police presence and her kids knew “who to look out for”.

“There’s been a lot of hoo-ha about this guy,” said the woman who did not want to be named. “Surely he’s left the area by now?

“You wouldn’t be sitting in the Toast Rack cafe or on Wandsworth Common thinking ‘yes I’ve made it’.”

Police have said that escaped former soldier Daniel Abed Khalife is a “low risk”to public safety.

Arrested in January, the 21-year-old was being held in Wandsworth prison awaiting trial accused of planting fake bombs in a military base. 

Khalife has connections to Kingston-upon-Thames, according to the Met.

The former computer network engineer served in the British Army from 2018 Ministry of Defence’s Stafford, also known as Beacon Barracks.

While there it was alleged Khalife placed “three canisters with wires at RAF Stafford with the intention of inducing in another a belief that the said article was likely to explode or ignite and thereby cause personal injury or damage to property”.

Khalife is also accused of attempting to elicit information that may have been useful to terrorists between May 1, 2019, and January 6, 2022. 

Khalife was due to appear at Woolwich Crown Court in November and previously appeared at the Old Bailey where he denied all charges against him. 

Khalife is said to be 6ft 2ins tall and was last seen wearing a prison-issue chef’s uniform of a white T-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown steel toe cap boots, police have said.

Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, Commander Dominic Murphy has advised that if he is seen then “our advice if you do see him is not to approach him and call 999 straight away.”

Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk, told the House of Commons earlier today that an independent investigation will take place into how a former soldier accused of terrorism escaped prison.

“I made clear then and I reiterate now that no stone must be left unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened,” the justice secretary sad. “Who was on duty that morning? In what roles, ranging from the kitchen to the prison gate? What protocols were in place? Were they followed?

“Escapes from prison are extremely rare and the numbers have declined substantially in the last 10 to 15 years.

“This has been due in considerable part to sustain investment and improved physical and intelligent security. That includes investment of 100 million pounds in the period, since 2019 or measures such as enhanced gate security with x-ray body scanners.”

Pictured top: HMP Wandsworth, where Daniel Khalife, 21, inset, escaped from on Wednesday morning (Picture: PA and The Met)

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