Hey don’t blame the rioting prisoners at HMP Ford


These party animals brought the house down
Isn’t getting violently drunk and kicking up a stink over nothing part of the British DNA?

I’ve been watching, no listening to an irritating anchor woman reporting the riot at Ford Open Prison, in West Sussex. Whoop whoop dee do. As one who spent a Christmas and new years in a US women’s prison, I can understand why these guys, just wanted to let rip on New Years eve, and why shouldn’t they? Brits being Brit’s were on their best behaviour in town centres puking, pissing and smashing glasses all over the place.  Paramedics had their busiest night of the year, attending to Britain’s finest drinkers and bladder busters.

Prison can be quite mundane and if I knew there was a secret knees-up planned, I’d be first in line. In my 18 months locked up, I learned inmates can be quite resourceful, some were quite genius. I came across some impressive art pieces, poetry and crafts. Who knew you could make a tattoo machine from the mechanism of a cassette player (yes, it’s been a while since I was inside), a shank (a sharp stabbing object), cook up some hearty meals using a ‘stinger’ which is an immersion coil. I learned how to make a killer fiery beef burrito using one. If you work in the prison kitchen have a buddy or can pay for some ingredients, you can cook up quite a storm together with what your family sends you and what you buy in the commissary. While I never drank alcohol in prison, I was aware that ‘hooch’ – a prison brewed concoction made of fermented fruits, sugar and yeast, was being made and consumed all around me.

Immersion coil often used in prison to boil water for tea and coffee, but can also be used to make anything from a burrito to a delicious stuffing  made of canned oysters.


The best innovation award went to a girl on my wing who made a dildo, out of the pink stuff used to make dentures, thanks to one of the many training courses the prison ran, which included dental lab technician training.. Her cell was randomly searched and I couldn’t resist walking up to the officers desk afterward to plead for a close up view. My wish was granted. You know to this day, every time I sit in a dentist chair I can’t help thinking about it and smile.

Back to the inebriated inmates at HMP Ford.  I know it’s usually a slow time for the media at this time of the year, but why the big surprise about the prison ‘riot’? Isn’t getting violently drunk and kicking up a stink over nothing part of the British DNA? From football hooligans to Saturday night revellers and more recently, jumped up kids  thugs at the recent education fee cut protests, it’s obviously a malaise of living in what I consider a country with an overall good economy, but a third world standard of living, Year after year London and UK towns and cities are never included in the worlds best places to live.  Even Mexico City does better than us. That’s why people are so angry and drink too much.

Hey don’t yell at me, it’s true and there are statistics to back it up. Take a look at the average English football enthusiast. It’s not enough to simply want their team to win, after the game finishes the defeated English football fan looks to find someone they can assault. How many times has a game been, “lost on the field but won in the carpark” in a violent, puffing, beer bloated and sweaty confrontation. This is not only abnormal, it’s a telling sign of national neuroses.

A perfect example is a former client of mine who lives in Hertfordshire and whose husband plays for a first division football team. The team was having a bad season, so what do some ‘fans’ do? They vandalized the walls and gate surrounding their home as well as threw things over the wall.

Personally I would have suggested a little New Years Eve soiree for the inmates, attended by the Ford Open Prison’s Gov, prison officers and a scattering of local luminaries. Throw in some Babychams or inexpensive Chilean wine (limited to two glasses per inmate), some finger foods and music and things may have turned out differently.

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