Detectives hunting an “extremely dangerous” murder suspect who escaped from a prison van following a “well-orchestrated armed ambush” have arrested a man in connection with the incident.

Officers from West Midlands Police detained the suspect on Monday night just hours after Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke ordered an inquiry into how John Anslow was able to be sprung from custody despite being classed as a highly dangerous category A prisoner.

The 31-year-old, who is now at the centre of an international manhunt, escaped after a gang of three masked men stopped the prison van, smashed its windows with sledgehammers and punched its driver as it was taking inmates from Hewell Prison in Redditch to Stafford Crown Court on Monday morning.

Instead of being transferred in a high-security prison service van with a police escort, Anslow was with other inmates in a van run by a private contractor.

His status was only upgraded after he was charged with the murder of businessman Richard Deakin last week.

Detectives hunting for Anslow executed five search warrants in the Tipton area of the West Midlands and arrested a man in connection with the suspected killer’s escape.

Detective Superintendent Martin Evans of Staffordshire Police, the force leading the hunt, said: “We have (been) working closely with colleagues in the West Midlands and West Mercia police forces to help investigate the escape of John Anslow. The searches of these addresses is just one element of this fast moving investigation.

“Police have also arrested a male from an address in the Tipton area in connection with the escape. He remains in police custody whilst the investigation progresses.”

Anslow was due to be taken to a category A prison, rather than back to Hewell Prison which was designed for lower risk category B, C and D inmates, after his court hearing, but he was sprung from custody at around 8.20am.

He is the first category A prisoner to escape from custody in more than 17 years.

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