Daniel Khalife
Research shows that prison escapes have been extremely rare in recent years, with just five since 2017, and fewer than 20 since 2010. Metropolitan Police via AFP

In August, a young British soldier by the name of Daniel Abed Khalife was arrested on suspicion of breaching the Official Secrets Act by obtaining information about soldiers from the MoD Joint Personnel Administration System that could be of use to terrorists.

No further action was taken, so he was subsequently bailed by police and allowed to return to his role at the MoD Beacon Barracks in Stafford.

However, in January this year, he was arrested once again after a fake bomb was allegedly discovered on his desk.

He was charged with two offences and appeared at Old Bailey in July when a further offence of breaching the Official Secrets Act was added to his indictment. Though he was initially being held at HMP Wandsworth, it wasn't until November that he was due to stand trial.

Or at least, that was the plan.

On Wednesday morning, the 21-year-old Daniel Khalife fled from the prison in a chef's uniform whilst he had been working in the prison kitchens to help prepare breakfast.

Police suspect that Khalife used the position in the kitchen to his advantage, and fled the prison by strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery van.

Former head of security at Wandsworth prison, Professor Ian Acheson, attributed Khalife's escape as the result of a "catastrophic system failure".

Professor Acheson added: "It's incredibly embarrassing for the prison service but it's not entirely surprising given what we know about what's going on Wandsworth at the moment."

It is known amongst the Metropolitan Police Services that the escaped prisoner has connections in the Kingston-upon-Thames area and police believe he is "most likely" still in London – although they are also entertaining the notion that he may have travelled further afield.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, also confirmed that all police forces and UK border points have been put on notice.

Murphy further commented that Mr Khalife "could be anywhere in the country at the moment, and we are mindful of the risk of him potentially leaving the country".

And now a huge police manhunt involving all 43 forces in England and Wales has entered its second day. This follows after Border Force issued an all-ports alert amid burgeoning fears that the former soldier could attempt to flee the country.

According to an airport spokesperson, additional security measures are currently in place at London Gatwick Airport, along with other major UK airports.

Incidentally, Heathrow Airport has also warned potential travellers about the possibility of longer wait times at departures, due to the "additional checks" in place, whilst the Port of Dover has warned of significant traffic when leaving the country due to "enhanced checks".

Many are still wondering how Khalife was able to escape from Wandsworth prison, considering it is one of the largest, high-security prisons in the UK.

However, it has been known for being excessively overcrowded and for a number of successful escape attempts over the years, leading some to question how secure the prison actually is, leading Downing Street to admit that there is an urgent need for more staff.

Witnesses state that Khalife was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown steel-toe cap boots.

In terms of physical appearance, he has been described as being around six feet and two inches tall, of a slim build and has short brown hair.

Scotland Yard have issued an urgent appeal to help track Khalife down, whilst warning the public not to approach him if they spot him and instead calling 999 immediately.