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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

13 things you didn’t know about prison Christmas dinner

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Unfortunately, it wasn't possible to compare Christmas lunch at public and private prisons as the MoJ only provided information on public sector prisons, although they helpfully provided contact details for contracted out establishments.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act celebrated its 10th anniversary on New Year’s Eve. More than 400,000 information requests have been made since 1 January 2005 with the number growing steadily each year – the current going rate is about 1000 per week.

Amongst the answers to FOI requests released by the MoJ in December 2014 were:

  • Claims paid out by the MoJ in compensation to prison inmates for assault
  • The number of prisoners released after serving sentences for murder and manslaughter
  • The Christmas Day lunch menu for all prisons and spend per prison

Apologies, but I couldn’t resist perusing this last one so here are 13 things you (probably)  didn’t know about Christmas dinner in prison:

  1. The budget allocated by NOMS to public sector prisons within England and Wales to cover all prisoner meals and beverages is currently set at £2.02 per prisoner per day.
  2. It’s up to individual prisons if they want to spend more on Christmas dinner (out of their own budget).
  3. Turkey was not on the menu at 12 establishments.
  4. There were SEVEN choices of main course at HMP Stafford.
  5. The choices at HMP Buckley Hall were particularly uninspiring: All day Breakfast (with vegetarian and Halal versions), Pork and Stuffing Bap or Tuna Bap – although both the baps do come with crisps.
  6. Although better than at Belmarsh where there was simply a choice of baguettes (Coronation Chicken, Tuna & Cucumber or Cheese and Tomato).
  7. Curry was an option at 12 prisons.
  8. Several prisons specified that the Brandy sauce which accompanied Christmas Pudding was non-alcoholic.
  9. Nandos regulars would be happy with peri-peri chicken at HMP Featherstone.
  10. If you didn’t fancy Christmas pudding and custard, your fall back was often rather lacklustre – a satsuma at HMP Aylesbury, banana at HMP Humber or a filling slice of watermelon at HMP Hull.
  11. Pudding lovers should try to be at HMP Hatfield where you had a choice of homemade Christmas cake, Black Forest Gateau or homemade mince pie.
  12. Nut roast was on offer at 33 prisons while vegatarian or vegan schnitzels were on the menu at 11.
  13. Unluckiest of all were inmates at HMP Brixton where Christmas lunch was simply described as “not held”.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to compare Christmas lunch at public and private prisons as the MoJ only provided information on public sector prisons, although they helpfully provided contact details for contracted out establishments.

There will be a small prize for the reader with the best example of a bizarre Freedom of Information request. Please use the comment sections below.

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3 Responses

  1. 1. Can the MoJ provide details of what they believe to be the stupidest Freedom of Information request submitted to them in the last year?
    2. Can the MoJ provide details of any things that are done in prisons which are a bit like things that are done in holiday camps (hyperlink to Butlin’s website provided). Examples might include film screenings, kettles which might not work provided in rooms, surly and/or friendly reception staff, and anything at all involving clowns.
    3. How many prisons (in or out of London) are also a) the names of tube stations b) squares in Monopoly?

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