A prison inmate who police consider "dangerous" has escaped from a prison escort van after it was ambushed earlier this morning.

John Anslow, 31, was charged with the murder of Richard Deakin who was shot in Chasetown, Staffordshire, in 2010.

Anslow was on his was to Stafford Crown Court when three men ambushed the vehicle wielding sledge hammers.

Detective Inspector Jon Marsden of West Mercia Police said: "Three men wearing balaclavas, two of whom were carrying sledgehammers, got out of a silver Volkswagen Scirocco, and smashed the windscreen and driver's window of the GEO Amey prison escort van.

"The van driver was punched but no serious injuries were sustained by escort staff. There were two other prisoners in the van at the time, neither of whom were released."

The group sped off and are believed to have switched cars to a silver Mercedes in Bromsgrove shortly after.

Detective Inspector Mardsen continued: "Anslow has recently been charged with murder and is considered dangerous. We are working closely with our colleagues from West Midlands and Staffordshire Police forces and a large number of officers from all three forces are involved in the search for him. However we would urge any members of the public who sees him not to approach him directly, but to contact police immediately on 999.