A former inmate of Wandsworth HMP has said he is “amazed” that there are not more prison breaks there.
This comes as Daniel Khalife, who dramatically escaped the Wandsworth prison, was arrested yesterday following a four-day manhunt.
Chris Atkins, a best-selling author, served nine months of a five-year- sentence in the south London prison for tax fraud in 2016.
Mr Atkins blamed the “dangerous” cuts to prisons – £900 million a year since 2010 – for the daring escape on Wednesday.
Writing in The Times, the documentary maker said the “prison break was a shock to everyone except those who have seen the inside of HMP Wandsworth”.
Khalife’s escape has put a spotlight on the security at Wandsworth and sparked a debate over how the escape was allowed to happen.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said “we need answers about how on earth a prisoner charged with terror and national security offences could have escaped in this way”.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said that he will leave “no stone unturned” in the investigations into prison security.
Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor said in an ideal world the prison would be shut but it was needed to service the courts.
Mr Taylor said staff shortages are “the source of many problems” at HMP Wandsworth.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons said his last inspection of Wandsworth showed it had high numbers of “non-effective” staff – staff who are off work for reasons including sickness and training.
Cutbacks in prison system meant that “old-school ex-army screws — bloody frightening but great at their jobs” were replaced by “terrified school leavers with nine weeks’ training”
Mr Atkins echoed this, saying that the cutbacks in the prison system meant that “old-school ex-army screws — bloody frightening but great at their jobs” were replaced by “terrified school leavers with nine weeks’ training”.
He added that 90 percent of the prison population at Wandsworth “spend 23 hours a day stuck in their cells” and that there is very little attention drawn to education or drug therapies.
He said that the underfunded prisons had become “breeding grounds for violence and re-offending,” adding that reoffending costs the taxpayer more than £18 billion a year.
Wandsworth prison was one of nine prison services rated as a “serious concern” in the Annual Prison Performance Ratings for 2022/23.
Its rating, based on a range of measures including security, rehabilitation and training, was 46.4 percent – one of the lowest out of all 119 prisons.