Wandsworth Prison is traditionally an ethnically diverse working class part of London, and for years was strenuously avoided by the well-to-do. Now, however, an influx of MPs, game show hosts, TV presenters and other celebrities is, according to many long term residents, changing the traditional character of the jail.
The transformation of the prison, conveniently located for access to London’s most popular criminal courts and holding cells, has had a traumatic effect on many inmates, with new ABC1 residents having an impact on all areas of prison life, from the introduction of hanging baskets in the corridors to the menu in the canteen.
‘What the hell is a skinny latte?’ complained lifer Ron Bellinger, 56. ‘Why is my HP sauce now “drizzled” on to the bacon sandwich? Why is there a picture of a pig looking happy on the wall? It was all this sort of bollocks that turned me to crime in the first place.’
Cell-price inflation has risen by 300% in recent months. ‘Last year I only had to shower with the warden to get my own crib’ said a prisoner wishing to remain anonymous. ‘Now the same perk needs two gaoler favours, and for the best rooms, a quick hand job for the governor. And worse, I hear that Foxton’s are thinking of opening an office.’
The changes have left the traditional prison community fearing for the future of the next generation, and many Wandsworth residents say their children have been forced to live outside the borough if they want to get on the prison property ladder. ‘My son can’t get a place in Wandsworth for love nor money,’ said one inmate, whose family has been staying in Wandsworth at Her Majesty’s Pleasure since the 1930s. Now, for the first time, young Micky Fraser has been forced to slop out in Feltham Young Offenders Institute.
‘For generations the local community has used Wandsworth to grant itself protection from my family,’ complained the 7th –generation convict. ‘But now I find myself the first in a long line of Frasers who is unable to shit on his own doorstep. I don’t know what this place is coming to.’
Ronseal, with NewBiscuit and SuburbanDad