Eighty prison officers absent at HMP Wandsworth on day of Daniel Khalife escape

15 September 2023, 15:00 | Updated: 15 September 2023, 19:52

Eighty prison officers absent at Wandsworth on the day Daniel Khalife escaped
Eighty prison officers absent at Wandsworth on the day Daniel Khalife escaped. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Eighty prison officers did not attend their shifts at HMP Wandsworth on the day Daniel Khalife escaped from the prison, a Government minister has said.

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Justice minister Damian Hinds revealed the number - equating to 39 per cent of total expected staff on September 6 - in response to a question submitted by Labour MP for Dr Rosena Allin-Khan.

Khalife, 21, was remanded in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday after escaping from HMP Wandsworth on September 6 by strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery lorry.

He was arrested and pulled off a bike last Saturday after being spotted by a plain-clothes officer.

HMP Wandsworth
HMP Wandsworth. Picture: Alamy

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Dr Allin-Khan, the Labour MP for Tooting, asked how many and what proportion of shift slots at Wandsworth Prison were unfilled on that date.

Mr Hinds responded: "On September 6 2023, 1,594 prisoners were held at HMP Wandsworth.

"125 Band 3 Prison Officers at the prison attended their shift on that day. This equates to 61% of all staff due to attend.

"80 officers did not attend their expected shift at the prison on that day."

The Conservative MP for East Hampshire said staffing levels were still above the minimum level required at the prison, and all staff in both the kitchen and gatehouse were on duty on the day in question.

He added an initial investigation into Khalife’s escape "did not find the staffing level to be a contributing factor".

A prison service spokesperson said later: "Staffing levels at HMP Wandsworth have increased by around a quarter since 2017 and there were an appropriate number of staff on duty that day, with almost all absences factored into workforce planning, including staff out for training or on annual leave.

"The initial investigation did not find staffing levels to be a contributing factor in the escape. All staff were on duty in the kitchen and gatehouse."