Tuna Price Rise Shocker

4 May

It’s a productive morning in the Screw’s new canteen trying to square away a number of pointless tasks. We divvy out the tasks and I try to motivate a bunch of lads who don’t want to be here. None of us want to be HERE but they just have little interest in the notion of building a shiny new canteen for the screws on 90 pence a day. It doesn’t cross my mind, I’m aware that the morning flies by when your occupied and I enjoy working.

Bruno the education department’s boss and this project’s bizarrely appointed oversight; had nothing to say about the shift we put in this morning. However, considering his inability to spot:

Young men working hard:

For 90 pence a day

Overcoming problems caused by his ignorance to architecture of any kind; and

Using some no small amount of initiative to do so…

…him saying nothing is possible a compliment. He has that fine virtue in being able to find fault in the faultless. Alienating his inmates and civvy staff is a daily regimen he sticks to with no deviation. It is believed he was tasked with managing this build project having received a boxset of 60 Second Makeover out of a bargain bin in MVC last Christmas. The guy lacks friend appeal. . In the real world, someone like this trying to run a development would have been laid in the footings long ago.

The others expect nothing less from a man they dub a ‘Little Hitler’, I couldn’t care less I just like being occupied. If I learn one thing here from this then it’s no major disaster. I’m pleased I can now fit architraves and skirting boards; chop out a lock or hang a door.



It’s a Friday and my canteen sheet drops the bomb shell. Tuna prices rise from 59p to 75p. This is for the low quality flakes probably farmed by removing the aquatic corpses from the undersoles of an angry fish stamper. I am not entirely sure such a person exists but if they did, they’d wear wellies and end up with fish in their tread. This is then removed and tinned in factories in the East and sold to HMP. Our wage remains at £7 a week but our shopping list inflation hits 20 to 30%. I’m waiting for the price of £1 phone credit to rise too. Nothing would surprise me in prison. With earnings like this it’s little wonder why the importance of employment and good money habits aren’t hammered home to inmates while on the inside. The payphones don’t offer an economical option, prisoner’s earnings are quickly attritioned. This is what leads rise to the use of mobile phones in prison. Far from the stories of gangsters running their criminal empires in prison using smuggled in handsets; it’s mostly youngsters calling their girlfriends or texting their pals in other nicks.


On George’s advice, we sit down and construct some thoroughly entertaining but irritating freedom of information requests we could send out to the Ministry of Justice and make available to tabloids. Having been inside I can spot the sort of story that ‘The Daily Mail’ could whip up into a hysteria disco. For example:

“Taxpayers fund thousands of Prison Thugs and Serial Offender’s junk food habits”

This translates as:

“Prisoner’s earn less than £1 a day and are able to spend this on a range of items purchased from a controlled list, once a week”

The latter sentence is infinitely less attention grabbing; the top one is the type ‘The Sun’ would churn up to fill a space.  Using buzzwords that are known to anger up Middle England’s blood, it does nothing to give a true insight into our Justice Management System and why it does or doesn’t work.

Interested to know how the bidding process for the Prison Canteen works and why 3 ex-Governors run the business rather than a larger supplier; we prepare letters to this end. Tesco or Asda with massive buying power could offer more competitive pricing, making for more contented inmates and perhaps a few less behavioural problems now and again. Plus, Tesco would love a little business guaranteeing them an extra £25-50 million turnover per annum.

So, how did 3 ex-Governor’s land the gig?


Stinking barrel of corruption?

Or: just a funny coincidence?

We spot these hypocrisies because we are surrounded by it, the man or woman on the street doesn’t have a scooby.


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