HMPPS Update

Published date : 07 September, 2023
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. My party hopes Khalife will soon return to custody. Leaving aside the extraordinary manner of the details of the escape, some more immediate questions arise. Mr Khalife may have been believed to pose a low risk to members of the public, but he was clearly thought to present a considerable risk to his service colleagues and to national security. As such, it will strike people as extraordinary that he was being held under category B conditions, rather than category A, pending any trial.

What is more extraordinary is that prison inspectors reported concerns in January last year about the measures in place at Wandsworth to prevent escapes, after finding what they believed to be potential shortcomings in physical aspects of security locally on site. It was also alarming to hear the former head of security at Wandsworth, Ian Acheson, on the radio this morning saying that, on any given day, some 30% to 40% of frontline staff are unavailable for duty at the prison.

The Prison Officers Association has highlighted that some £900 million has been stripped out of prison budgets in England and Wales since 2010, which will leave more prisons than just Wandsworth overcrowded and under-resourced. The Prison Officers Association’s national chair has called this morning for an urgent review of how prisons across England and Wales are run. I appreciate that the Secretary of State has announced two separate strands of inquiry from the Dispatch Box, which I am sure will be welcomed, but will he expand the scope of his questioning to allow for that inquiry into how the Prison Service across England and Wales is run, in the light of the concerns that have been expressed?

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