Londoners living in the shadow of HMP Wandsworth say they see drones attempting to smuggle in contraband and hear inmates screaming.
Residents have described being concerned about the prison’s staffing levels.
Despite this, they say they feel safe living so close to the prison, which is on Heathfield Road.
The comments come as the prison is facing scrutiny after prisoner Daniel Khalife was charged with escaping it.
A spokesperson for His Majesty’s Prison Service said they had invested £100m into prison security to “clamp down on contraband across the estate”.
Former British Army solder Mr Khalife appeared in court on Monday charged with escaping from lawful custody.
An inmate was also stabbed at the prison on Sunday, days after Mr Khalife’s alleged escape, in an incident thought to be between prisoners.
The Metropolitan Police said no arrests had been made and inquiries into the circumstances of the attack were ongoing.
In 2016, footage obtained by the BBC showed a drone delivering drugs and mobile phones to Wandsworth prisoners.
The package was recovered by prison officers after being spotted on CCTV.
Maria, who did not wish to give her surname, has lived close to the prison since 2014.
‘Drones stuck in trees’
The 44-year-old said the area felt “really safe” when she first moved in, but claimed she slowly started to notice “more drones”, believed to be carrying contraband, and “more dodgy people” hanging around.
She said: “We’ve had some people looking for drones stuck in trees, things like that. But in general I’ve felt safe, I would say.
“But there is a lot of noise from the prison, this is what I’ve been complaining about, which does make you feel less safe in the sense for my kids because they can hear them screaming [abuse]. Things like that we can hear really clearly.”
“Staffing crisis” and “incidents of violence at alarming levels”
A report from Wandsworth’s Independent Monitoring Board published in September 2022 found there was a “staffing crisis”, “wholly inadequate physical conditions” and “incidents of violence at alarming levels”.
A 58-year-old woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said her family loved living in the area and described it as a “very safe place”.
She said she believed changes would have to happen at the prison following Mr Khalife’s alleged escape “because the world is watching”.
She added: “I really hope they close it down or cut it in half – have less prisoners and then maybe they’ll have less crime.”