Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, statement on HMP Pentonville –
“It is deeply concerning that two prisoners have escaped from HMP Pentonville. The police are leading efforts to find the escaped prisoners and we are offering assistance to them. Our priority is to ensure that local residents are kept safe.
“This latest incident at the prison comes after the recent murder of a prisoner and multiple reports of security concerns at the prison.
“It has been clear for some time that there are real problems at the prison, which has been chronically underfunded by the government. The government has cut prison budgets by more than a third and has cut 5,200 prison officers since 2010, despite the number of prisoners more than doubling over the last 20 years. This has led directly to the problems facing many prisons across the country, including HMP Pentonville.
“Despite the efforts of prison officers, who do an extremely difficult job that has been made harder by the actions of the government, drugs, weapons and other forbidden items are getting into the prison. The prison’s perimeter walls are being exploited as routes for contraband to be passed into the prison, and this is simply not acceptable to us or the local residents who see this criminal activity going on.
“This is a situation that cannot continue.
“Senior colleagues and I will be meeting with the Prison Governor very shortly to raise our serious concerns again and to demand clear action to address the issues in the prison and immediately outside of it.
“However, we must also recognise that until the government acknowledges the crisis facing our prison system, fully resolving HMP Pentonville’s issues will not be possible. We will continue to make this point to the government loud and clear.”