Thursday, 29 January 2015

Grayling Talks Tough on Pills and Puff

I have written before on this blog about the problems posed by so-called ‘legal highs’ in our prisons. Since around 2012 these substances – often marketed as ‘herbal incenses’ on the high street – have become the drugs of choice for many cons. You can find more about the impact that these ‘highs’ can have in my previous post: Mamba... a Nasty Name for a Nasty Thing

Extremely nasty
Presumably spurred on by recent media coverage of the problem and references to the issue in a number of reports issued by HM Inspectorate of Prisons, the Secretary of State for ‘Justice’, Chris Grayling, has now decided to get tough by cracking down on the use of ‘legal highs’ in the run up to the general election in May. Earlier this week he announced plans to introduce drugs testing to identify and punish users.

Of course, this knee-jerk initiative is likely to be no more than the usual puff of hot air from ‘Calamity Chris’. Prison authorities have been promising Mandatory Drugs Tests (MDTs) that are capable of detecting legal highs for the last two years. So far nothing has materialised. This is principally because of the difficulties involved in testing for substances where the chemical composition changes very regularly. The costs are also likely to prove prohibitive and Mr Grayling isn’t known for putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to prisons.

Both from my own experience as a former prisoner, as well as on anecdotal evidence from other inmates, prisons are full of pretty much every type of contraband, ranging from explicit porn DVDs to drugs (hard, soft and legal), mobile phones, SIM cards and alcohol. In closed prisons (Cats-A, B and C), this volume of smuggled items could only be possible with the active involvement of corrupt members of staff (uniformed or civilian), few of whom are ever caught or prosecuted.

Wraps that didn't make it through
According to official Ministry of Justice (MoJ) figures for the financial year 2013-2014, a total of 25 prison staff have either been sacked or prosecuted after getting caught while trafficking contraband of various kinds into prisons. Although this figure is equal to the combined number of staff apprehended in the two previous financial years, as almost anyone who knows anything about prisons will confirm, this is only the tip of a much bigger iceberg of corruption.

When I was in a Cat-D (open prison) I actually served time with two ex-screws who had been caught and were prosecuted, but there are many others who get away with it or who take early retirement or resign on the grounds of ill health if they are found in possession of mobile phones, SIM cards or drugs (legal or illegal) inside a prison. Over-stretched security staff are finding it increasingly difficult to keep tabs on both prisoners and suspect colleagues.

Visitors who bring in tiny wraps of drugs to pass over to inmates during visiting sessions are usually being pressured or blackmailed by desperate prisoners who are deeply in debt to the drugs barons due to their habits. In the worst case scenarios criminal associates of the dealers target family members of prisoners in their own homes and threaten dire retribution against them or their loved one inside unless they act as ‘mules’.

Hands on the table, lad...
In reality, the small quantities of drugs that do get through to prisoners from visitors during visits could never meet the growing demand on the wings. Moreover, the risks – including possible imprisonment of family members, often vulnerable women – is not proportionate to the value of these tiny wraps. This end of the trade is all about desperate efforts to pay off debts to wing drugs barons. As usual, the real money is being made elsewhere.

Open prisons are another story. Prisoners who have Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) go into the local town or else go home and bring in various items - particularly herbal highs, as well as other goodies that aren’t available on the canteen sheet. Some do get caught and nicked by Reception screws, but an awful lot gets through the gate and is then used or sold on. 

I had six home leaves from a Cat-D and my washbag was never, ever checked when I reported back, nor was I beyond a very light pat down, if that. Personally, I never ‘smuggled’ anything more naughty than a few extra razor blades or the occasional tube of decent toothpaste, but many others did very well from trafficking Black Mamba, Spice, M-Cat (mephedrone) and other synthetic drugs, some of which – like Spice and M-Cat – have now been made illegal, although others have taken their place under different brand names and sometimes with different chemical compositions.

M-Cat... a bit like cocaine
The issue of legal highs in prisons is problematic, mainly because it can only be dealt with internally by a charge of unauthorised possession of an item, since the substance itself is often not illegal to possess or use. In fact, a woman who smuggled a legal high into a prison recently had her conviction quashed by the court on the grounds that she hadn’t actually committed a criminal offence known in law.

Following an internal adjudication for possession of unauthorised items (or failing a drugs test for illegal drugs) a governor can impose ‘losses’ (of privileges, canteen access, gym and prison wages) for a set time, or it can end up with time down the Block (segregation unit). Most proven adjudications will also lead to a demotion in the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme, often from Enhanced to Standard, or even down onto Basic level straight away if the offence is serious.

Being caught with illegal drugs, however, is entirely another story because that can end up back in court with the prospect of extra time on a sentence, especially if there is a suspicion of any dealing to other cons. Prison security usually puts intense pressure on suspected dealers to give up both their suppliers and their customers when hard drugs are involved.

No MDTs for legal highs
If I’m honest, I would like to see drug-free prison wings. I’ve seen at first-hand the serious problems created in our prisons by both legal and illegal substances, as well as the bullying, violence, debt and despair the trade can generate. However, I’m not at all convinced that we will really see any positive change as a result of Mr Grayling’s belated electioneering. He usually talks big, but acts small, especially when it comes to anything that might involve additional budgetary expenditure on prisons.

What does concern me far more is giving Mr Grayling – arguably the most incompetent minister in the present government – executive powers over what prescription medications are permitted in prisons. In my view, medication should be prescribed purely on the basis of identified clinical need by qualified medical personnel, not limited or prohibited by the ideological diktat of utterly unqualified politicians.

Of course, there has been a problem with misdirection of prescribed medication inside our prisons for many years. Various medicines – especially strong painkillers or sedatives – are sold on or bullied out of older, weaker or more vulnerable inmates. However, the answer would be to tighten up the way in which medication is dispensed at healthcare hatches and to step up supervision by frontline staff to ensure medicines are actually taken by the intended patient. Weaker and older prisoners could also be made less of a target for the bullies and drug dealers by not allowing them to keep quantities of certain types of medicines in their possession in their cells.  

Rising number of elderly inmates
What I fear will now happen due to Mr Grayling’s political panic is that prisoners – many of them elderly, in poor health or living with mental illnesses – will be at risk of being routinely denied some types of prescribed medications. This has already been the practice in many prisons where medically prescribed drugs such as strong painkillers (particularly opioids) are being withheld not on clinical grounds, but on the basis of security concerns.

In theory, prison healthcare departments are supposed to deliver the same quality of NHS treatment to everyone, regardless of status. However, we are now in danger of treating prisoners with serious illnesses or agonising medical conditions as ‘less than human’ when compared to their counterparts back in the community.

Where severe pain cannot be managed effectively, some prisoners may opt for suicide as their only viable alternative to unbearable suffering. Given that suicide rates in our prisons are already rocketing upwards, this policy seems to carry the hallmark of the man who callously described recent self-inflicted deaths in custody as a statistical “blip”: Mr Grayling himself.


  1. Prison healthcare: on a good day it's incompetent, on a bad day it will kill you is the usual mantra used to describe it. It's supposed to be on a par with the quality of care in the community but the actual reality is very different. Incompetent staff who can't get a job elsewhere end up working in prison healthcare simply because they are the only people prison healthcare can employ. privatising it with Virgin Health or the equivalent has made not a blind bit of difference to the quality of said healthcare as the exact same staff run the zoo as they did before when it was in public hands. This means that if you go into prison with any health issues they are guaranteed to get worse whilst you're inside as you simply won't get a good quality of care. And if you don't well you probably will by the time you get out due to poor diet, lack of sunshine, crap beds, lack of exercise etc.

    At Downview (fondly known by a lot of people as Brownview for the sheer quantity of stuff that sloshed around the prison) people used to go out on ROTL with a shopping list of items people on the wing wanted and were able to bring it all in without getting nicked. People on the resettlement wing had a nice racket going bringing contraband for their buddies on other wings and there was a healthy trade in all sorts with corrupt staff.

    At Bronzefield people used to ask to get sent to seg as the seg officers would get you anything you wanted in return for sexual favours: alcohol, drugs, phones etc. There was also a healthy trade in hooch brewing on the wings

    The worst place though was ESP. A significant proportion of the lifers were clearly running a drugs ring out of the place stashing the contraband that either came in over the garden wall or was brought in in either the lifer allotments or on the farm. They were so open about what they were doing the staff either had to be aware of it and turned a blind eye or were getting a cut for turning a blind eye to what was going on.

    The only place I didn't see awash with drugs was Holloway but that didn't mean they weren't around in large quantities. But it was difficult to know what was going on in the prison as a whole as you only ever really saw what was going on on your own wing because of the way Holloway is compartmentalised.

    In 3 and a half years I only ever knew of one person who got nicked for smuggling in drugs via a visit. Everything else was brought in either by staff or those who got ROTL clearly showing that despite the rhetoric by the MoJ and HMPS it is the staff who are to blame for the sheer quantity of stuff flowing into prisons.

    In fact I'm pretty sure that if every officer, governor and member of staff was thoroughly searched on a daily basis you would probably solve the problem of drugs getting into prisons at a stroke. But Grayling likes to pretend that there isn't a problem with staff bringing in contraband, the problem is solely due to the criminals behind bars and their criminal friends, family and acquaintances smuggling things in.

    1. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences of women's prisons. It's interesting to learn that the staff corruption was that blatant and all-pervasive.

      I fully agree that the majority of drugs and other contraband circulating in most prisons are brought in by staff (uniformed and civilian). Most of the lucrative theft and pilfering inside tends to involve members of staff helping themselves to public property (and occasionally cons' gear too).

      There is a fair amount of attempted drug smuggling via visits. However, I'm convinced that most of the busts are actually mugs and their visitors being set up so that security looks efficient while the real consignments are walked in via the main gate and staff entrances.

      The sexual element does appear to be missing in most men's jails. I think the bent screws are in it for the money, although occasionally a female screw either fell for a young, good-looking con and got blackmailed, or else - in one case - she took her selected young male victims off to the cleaning cupboard and ordered them to satisfy her frustrated urges! Which, to be fair, most weren't adverse to doing.

      Resettlement wings and open prisons tend to cut out the need for staff participation, simply because it's so easy for cons to bring bagfuls of goodies in themselves - under cover of food shopping. On my Cat-D unit, over half the lads were under the influence of mamba or similar by 7 pm. When it got to the 10 pm roll check many couldn't walk unaided. The duty screws just couldn't be bothered unless a numpty was actually sick on the landing or had to be taken off to hospital in the 'mambulance' (as the ambulance was dubbed).

    2. In my experience resettlement wings didn't cut out the need for staff participation at all, the staff participation continued regardless of what was being brought in by those on the resettlement wings.

      Ironically the SO in charge of Downviews resettlement wing got done for corruption, contraband smuggling etc shortly before the place shut down as she was bringing the contraband in on a wholesale basis. She was gate arrested and spent several months on remand at Holloway which we all found hysterically funny and a lovely case of karma given her attitude towards us cons.

    3. Thanks for your comments. It is fascinating to hear what goes on in women's prisons. I think too many people still have lingering memories of TV's Prisoner: Cell Block-H whenever the female prison estate is mentioned.

      There is a certain amount of satisfaction when a bent screw or governor comes a cropper. And it is often the worst examples who are bent...

    4. Talking to officers who have served in both the male and female establishments there are some significant differences between the estates but there are also an awful lot of similarities too. For example there tend to be fewer lifers and IPPs than in the male population but a disproportionate number of foreign national drug mules. Most women seem to be in for low level drug related petty theft, disturbance of the peace type things. The most shocking thing I found was several victims of sexual trafficking were in jail i.e. victims of awful crime because they had come into the UK on forged passports supplied by their traffickers. Quite how anyone trafficked into sexual slavery ends up in jail is a shocking indictment of our judicial system.

      HMPS apparently makes more effort to get women into education/work whilst inside mainly I suspect because they are too scared of wholesale self harm and suicide if they don't as women are statistically more likely to self harm than men. But the offerings are very limited and very traditional "women's roles" compared to a lot of men's prisons (cat C for example) which in the second decade of the 21st century is bizarre and very patronising.

      There is an inordinate amount of pressure on women's inmates to behave in a typically "feminine" way i.e seen and not heard, sweet, gentle, retiring. Stand up for yourself, no matter how politely and you get labelled a trouble maker because its not "acceptable" behaviour even though we are also told to stand up for ourselves if we have been bullied into committing crime and to be responsible for our actions and our choices. Completely mixed messages really.

      A fair amount of sexual exploitation by both male and female staff occurs in every female prison although I've not heard of much inmate on inmate sexual exploitation going on. Downview infamously had the scandal in 2010 of wholesale sexual abuse by officers and a deputy governor of inmates, Bronzefield's seg was rife with it and it also happened on the wings as well (I had a night officer come into my cell about 2:00 a.m. on the first night I moved into Houseblock Two. He'd obviously been doing the woman who had been in the cell previously and hadn't realised she's been moved and when he realised it was me and not her, he left very quickly). ESP had a few lesbian officers who were conducting not so discreet relationships with inmates which the inmates went along with to boost their chances of getting parole. Holloway too had its problems in this regard although it was a lot more difficult for stuff to go on there as virtually everyone was in a shared cell or a dorm.

      I've come across a lot of officers who see their job and their keys as licence to bully, degrade and force the women in their care into sex simply because they hold all the power. It's always appalled me that HMPS doesn't do more to weed out this type of abusive personality in the selection and training process so that this sort of thing doesn't occur.

      And no women's prison I've been in is anything like Cell Block H!

  2. It's refreshing to hear Grayling admit that there is a problem in prisons and is doing something to deal with it. Maybe not doing the right thing or in the right way but much better than complete denial.

    Detecting a banned substance in an inmates urine during an MDT is the very final stage of that substance journey. It show failings at many levels for the substance to get that far. It's all well and good punishing the user but doesn't go far enough to prevent the trade in substances.

    Over a 12 month period I was 'randomly' selected for a MDT. Each time the result was clear - I don't use illegal substances inside or out. My pad mate - a regular drug user - a fact known by staff was not 'randomly' selected for a MDT once. The cynic in me questions the randomness of selection - select the least likely to be positive to improve figures on drug use inside?

    I recall one inmate who was know to take just about anything he could get his hands on failed an MDT. At his adjudication he couldn't be punished due to failings in the handling of his 'nicking'. He was caught red handed and walked away due to staff incompetence.

    It is of great concern that a doctors opinion and treatment can be overridden by bureaucracy and political meddling to attract a few votes. Prescription medication should never be withheld by unqualified politicians. Having dabbled in law is Grayling now turning to dabbling in medicine? I think he should stick to PR - another area he's not excelling in.

    1. Thanks for your comments and for sharing your first-hand experiences. Whereas Mr Grayling seems to be busy burying his head in the sand over sexual assaults and rape in our prisons, he is very vocal on drugs - presumably to please his core voters from the hang 'em and flog 'em brigade.

      Interestingly, I had three MDTs - all clean of course - and on one bizarre occasion I remember sitting in the waiting room with half a dozen other ex-professionals (bent lawyer, dodgy accountant etc) none of whom had a record of drug use. Needless to say, we all passed with flying colours.

      On the other hand, if they had selected any of the usual suspects on the wing, every single one would have failed as they spent most nights high as a kite. "Random testing?" - my arse. What MDTs are all about is making sure the stats look good for the next reporting period.

    2. Downview used to deliberately select prisoners they knew would provide a clean MDT so that their numbers of negative MDT's would be boosted. Talk about cheating the figures!

    3. I suspect that will be the same in pretty much every prison across the estate. Mind you, if you take out everyone on methadone, then the choice might be a bit limited anyway!

  3. What were u charged with is what I meant alex. Vas

    1. I was asked this question many times when I was inside. "what are you in for?" My usual reply would be "for getting caught!"

      It's completely irrelevant what your fellow con has been convicted of, it's all about how they are as a person and how they treat you as a person.

      During all of my time inside I never once asked why somebody was there, I always judged the person on their character rather than their conviction

    2. sentenced.for supply cat c soon, id rather not.tell anyone inside anything about me. But will they assume im a nonse??? Perhaps getting their mates/gf to google me on visits??
      How did people respond when u chose not too reveal your crime?

    3. Personally I found anybody knowing you're offence acted with complete indifference. Everybody inside (except remands) have been convicted of something unpleasant. Google can be a problem if your case makes it into the press - if so honesty is the best policy. Dealing class C won't cause you any problems at all when you're mixed with murders, burglars and any other criminal -maybe even politicians and TV personalities

    4. Thanks for the response, unfortunately Im an ex cop : / (not been in the job for years, but im sure the press will pick up on it) Damn it!

    5. As an ex cop you will most likely find yourself on the vulnerable prisoners (VP) wing. In fact, if you do get sent down request that you are - it's a common comment in prison that there's only one good type of copper - a dead one.

      You'll be mixing with sex offenders, other former police officers, prison officers etc etc. Still, I'd say treat anyone you meet for the person they are, not for their past issues. It will gain you respect and make you time a little easier.

    6. Thanks for all the responses above. As I'm still on appeal, I never discuss the details of my own case - at least not until I've been successful. Then I'll be doing a lot of media appearances!

      In response to the question about disclosure of convictions inside prison, in normal circumstances there wouldn't be any problem with drugs convictions of any kind. After all prisons are filled with people involved in the drugs trade.

      However, as you rightly point out, a past career in the police (or Prison Service) could prove to be a serious risk. Also, you can never be sure that you won't bump into someone inside who actually knew you when you were a serving copper - maybe even someone you helped to send down when you were in the job. Also the easy availability of mobile phones and information from the internet in jails won't help you in this regard.

      In your specific situation, I'm pretty certain that during the Reception process you'll be interviewed about that issue and informed that the staff will not be able to guarantee your safety on the "mains" wings. They will be as concerned about covering their own backsides as protecting you and for that reason will almost certainly steer you towards the Vulnerable Prisoner (VP) wing. If so, then my advice is to accept this with good grace and take what is on offer. If anything goes wrong on the mains, you'll only end up there anyway, maybe the worse for wear.

      Although VP units are widely considered to accommodate only sex offenders and child killers, in fact they also house former prison staff, ex-coppers, former magistrates and judges etc. Moreover, you would probably also find some people who are generally vulnerable and who just couldn't cope on a main location or are under threat because of debts.

      As suggested above, the best policy is to treat all cons politely and try to get to know who is who before becoming 'prison friends' with anyone. If there are other former coppers or prison staff, then the likelihood is that they will welcome you. Try to get padded up with someone whose convictions aren't going to make you feel uncomfortable - maybe another ex-copper or a former screw.

      If you get a shortish sentence then you'll probably get Cat-D status reasonably quickly and then be transferred to an open nick where they will be no VPU. Just keep a reasonably low profile and don't let on that you were once a copper - to other cons or to prison staff (although they'll probably know from your P_NOMIS computer file). To be honest some screws can be as anti-police as the prisoners, so don't expect any favours from the kangas.

      When I was in Cat-D myself I got to know two former screws, a couple of ex-coppers, some ex-Army lads, a magistrate etc. Uniformed types - even disgraced ones - do tend to stick together!

      One other word of warning. You may find that you get approached by prison internal security and put under pressure to become a Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) - ie a 'grass' using the old line "once a copper, always a copper". My advice is steer well clear as that is a great way to get stabbed, bashed or have scalding water and sugar thrown in your face ('jugging').

      I won't pretend that it will be easy for you inside - even on a VPU. However, if you are a genuinely likeable bloke and keep your head down, then you'll get through it OK. None of the ex-coppers or screws I met inside ever got attacked or threatened while I knew them - even though one of them was one of most miserable bastards known to man!

    7. Thankyou for being so gracious. You mentioned you met some former ex cops, screws etc etc...How or why did you discover that fact, surely they would not share that info, if no one discusses there uniformed past, then how did these 'groups' stick together??
      How that makes sense.

    8. Prisoners gossip like old ladies at a tea party! At my Cat-D I was involved in the induction process, so I got to know within an hour or so of any ex-screws or ex-coppers hitting the establishment.

      There was only one who managed to slip through the net - a very likeable fraudster who had been a cop years earlier. We genuinely had no idea until one day we were having a quiet coffee and he 'fessed up. Made no difference to me, but he had kept it all very quiet, especially when he was in a Cat-B for a couple of months after conviction.

      Ex-Armed services cons tend to join Veterans in Custody, so there are regular formal and informal meetings. Ex-coppers and ex-screws have often done time together on VPUs before they get to Cat-D nicks, so they already know each other. Sometimes they will try to get padded up together and watch each other's backs, although none of the lads I knew had experienced much grief from other vulnerable cons - most of whom wouldn't say boo to a goose. Honestly, I wouldn't sweat it - but at the same time, I wouldn't recommend telling any policing anecdotes!

  4. Oh lord Michael Spurr is a complete idiot blathering away complete nonsense on Channel 4 News. How on earth did this idiot ever get put in charge of the prison service? he kept blaming the prisoners and the drugs for all the problems and refused to accept any responsibility for his and Graylings appalling policies which have caused so many problems

    1. Thanks for your comments. I think I've made my views on Mr Spurr and NOMS pretty clear in previous blog posts. What was particularly disgusting about the Ministry of Justice response was that it dispatched a senior civil servant - Mr Spurr - to answer questions on political policies as well as on operational matters. This was completely inappropriate. Mr Spurr is elected by no-one. In the end, he is no more than a paid employee of NOMS.

      However, his political bosses - Messrs Grayling and Selous - were obviously incommoded by a serious attack of craven cowardice when Channel 4 requested their presence in the studio. These are the elected MPs who serve as ministers yet cannot bring themselves to face up to the tsunami of legitimate criticism of the crisis that has engulfed our prisons on their watch. Absolutely despicable individuals in every respect.

  5. Yeah, prisons arent safe because there is no staff....he basically said it...eventually!! Nick Harding seems fairly honest and sound....even stating watching day time tv for 23 hours a day is no way to stop reoffending...

    1. Thanks for your comment. The link between staff shortages, overcrowding and restricted regimes (23-hour bang-up etc) and the upsurge in violence - both against staff and prisoners - as well as rising rates of self-harm and suicide are obvious to anyone who has first-hand knowledge of prisons. Mr Hardwick is an honest man who has seen all this for himself and isn't afraid to tell it like it is. And he did so on the Channel 4 News. No wonder his contract as Chief Inspector of Prisons hasn't been renewed.

      It seems that no politician really likes an honest and independent voice in our prisons. Jack Straw was equally dreadful in that regard when he was Home Secretary and he also ousted the Chief Inspector. I just hope that whoever gets the job later this year turns out to be as forthright and truthful as Mr Hardwick. His departure is a real tragedy for everyone in prison, as well as for those outside who care about rehabilitation and decent treatment of prisoners.

    2. I found Jon Snow's questions about whether the inspectorate would be done away with after the election to be thought provoking. If the conservatives get back in I suspect that the independent inspectorate will vanish to be replaced with a box ticking pencil pushing post that finds nothing wrong in any prison.

    3. Thanks for the comment. I fear much the same. Unless there is some form of independent inspection regime, corruption and chaos in prisons will flourish unchecked.

  6. The Mail (of all things) has an interesting article on the rise of police corruption: Given the way the police generally behave towards people they have arrested its rather hypocritical of them when a substantial number of them appear to be completely corrupt. Obviously the figures are only the tip of the iceberg as a lot don't get caught (same as with corrupt prison officers). naturally the politicos won't want to admit the true extent of the problem as that could raise huge problems for them with appeals based on the fact that the arresting/investigating officers were completely corrupt.

    1. I was a cop for 8 years, and im telling you straight, corrupt cops are a tiny miniscule minority. I was an cop, and regularly let people off with a warning, only to by reprimanded by a colleague for not following procedure and using my common sense!!! I was known as cop who didnt play by the rulea, and i was a danger to the service! The younger ones are brainwashed in the old 'just nick em' and get a charge, it looks good! I felt the need to see how small my shift was, and for a minor offense it made sense to be on the street being avaialble to help the public, rather than writing up a report and being in the nick for 6 hours for graffiti or some minor.offense.
      We have all known good and bad cops, was I good or bad? I was bad in the police eyes, but good from a publics point of view.....
      Essentially, cops are cops, and like in any job, some people lick arse, and grass other staff up to climb to the top. Thats life, scumbags in uniform and in prison, but scumbags are still a minority, most people are decent, its the minority that always makes this world stink. Sorry to hijack the thread : )

  7. Black Mamba has one benefit, it has inspired a con to write a poem about it:

  8. More slave labour contracts under Grayling in our prisons as this report from the Guardian shows:

    Shouldn't be be prosecuted as a gangmaster for keeping people in inhumane conditions and forcing them to work at degrading jobs for virtually no wages? And I hardly think learning to make a sandbag or a fence post is going to qualify anyone for employment upon release as I hear there isn't much of a career in either field in the UK at the present time.

    But at least the Army will save a few quid!

    1. More pre election rubbish, I expect less than 1% of prisoners will get to work on anything more challenging than a sandbag! Rather than organising work parties like this, why not open some classrooms and have some real courses and proper study to do!! Books and education open the mind! Organise books, course work and study classes to keep cons minds active! Making 100 sandbags to buy a tin of tuna is slavery, free our minds with books not pennies!!!

    2. Thanks for your comments. I think that the actual figure for prisoners involved in the new Army contact will be around 0.06 percent! Prison education basically went down the tubes with the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) contracts involving payment by 'results' such as prisoner attendance. These severely limited what courses could be offered to prisoners, mainly at Level 2 or below.

      A friend of mine who is currently in a massive private sector Cat-B local has told me that the only education currently available is very basic literacy and numeracy, plus an entry level IT course. Given that this establishment's library has been closed for around three years, perhaps that's not entirely surprising.

  9. I liked it, "Following an internal adjudication for possession of unauthorised items (or failing a drugs test for illegal drugs) a governor can impose ‘losses’ (of privileges, canteen access, gym and prison wages) for a set time, or it can end up with time down the Block (segregation unit). Most proven adjudications will also lead to a demotion in the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme, often from Enhanced to Standard, or even down onto Basic level straight away if the offence is serious."
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