Banged Up

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett presents this hard-hitting documentary series in which ten youths spend ten days in prison. Each teenager has convictions ranging from theft to assault, but none of them have ever served time behind bars.

In a unique experiment, they find out what life in prison is truly like for the first time – but will it be enough to change their ways? In the final instalment, with two days remaining in the experiment, the inmates must prove to the parole board that they have sworn off a life of crime.

Closed for over a century, Scarborough Prison has reopened to accept a new batch of prisoners – ten young delinquents who are at the crossroads between a life of honest toil and a life of crime. This summer, the imposing Victorian jail is to play a part in a pioneering social experiment. Ten young men, each of whom has been in regular trouble with the police, will find out what life inside is actually like. Aged 16 and 17, they have been put forward by their parents, who have been driven to their wits’ end by their children’s behaviour.

The scheme is championed by David Blunkett MP, who will monitor the inmates’ progress and sit on the prison’s parole board. Mr Blunkett regards the project as a “second chance” for the teenagers involved. “Warning young people off a life of crime and giving them an alternative path in life surely has to make good common sense,” he says.

It is the young offenders’ penultimate night in prison. After eight days, they have settled into a comfortable routine and have come to respect their battle-hardened cellmates. So it comes as a rude shock when the ex-cons are swiftly ejected from the cells the following morning without explanation. The reality of the situation eventually begins to sink in for the boys – they must face their final 24 hours in jail alone. “It was kind of annoying because they left without saying ta-ra,” Benjamin tells the prison psychologist.

As the lads set about their day, some are coping with abandonment better than others. In woodwork class, Benjamin adds the final touches to his cabinet. “Normally I don’t finish anything,” he says. “My parents are gonna be really proud – especially my dad.”

Daniel from Liverpool, however, is struggling with the shock exit of his pal Bob. His refusal to work is disrupting the other prisoners, so he is put into solitary confinement. However, this backfires when Daniel begins to trash his cell and shout obscenities. Eventually, the prison psychologist is called in. Daniel admits that the emotionally charged week has started to take its toll – in particular the brief visit from his mother. “It was horrible at the end,” he says. “I didn’t like that bit.”

Unbeknownst to the boys, the next day they will be reunited with their mentors – albeit under very different circumstances. The ex-cons will sit on the parole board alongside Mr Blunkett and Professor Wilson and give each boy their final appraisal.

Patrick from London, who was involved in gang fights before coming to Scarborough, is first to appear before the panel. When asked what he thinks of his mentor, Stephen, it seems that Patrick now sees him as a father figure: “I’m gonna call him Uncle Steve cos he means so much to me.” The men tell Patrick they have organised bereavement counselling as part of his rehabilitation because he has yet to come to terms with the death of his father.

But the panel are in doubt as to whether Mancunian Aaron has been reformed. He smuggled two spliffs into prison and was also caught on CCTV offering drugs to Daniel. “Let’s hope your interchange with Danny was about bravado and not about what you’re going to do,” speculates Blunkett. Aaron’s cellmate, Dave, gives him a stern warning: “If I get a sniff that you’re up to no good, I’ll be down to Manchester like a bull to a red rag.”

The boys are thrilled to have their freedom back and vow never to end up behind bars. But can they achieve this in the real world without close supervision? The documentary revisits the lads two months after their release to find out.

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett presents this hard-hitting documentary series in which ten youths spend ten days in prison. Each teenager has convictions ranging from theft to assault, but none of them have ever served time behind bars. In a unique experiment, they will find out what life in prison is truly like for the first time – but will it be enough to change their ways? In this instalment, the inmates face the parole board for the first time.

Closed for over a century, Scarborough Prison has now reopened to accept a new batch of prisoners – ten young delinquents who are at the crossroads between a life of honest toil and a life of crime. This summer, the imposing Victorian jail is to play a part in a pioneering social experiment. Ten young men, each of whom has been in regular trouble with the police, will find out what life inside is actually like. Aged 16 and 17, they have been put forward by their parents, who have been driven to their wits’ end by their children’s behaviour.

The scheme is championed by David Blunkett MP, who will monitor the inmates’ progress and sit on the prison’s parole board. Mr Blunkett regards the project as a “second chance” for the teenagers involved. “Warning young people off a life of crime and giving them an alternative path in life surely has to make good common sense,” he says.

Now five days into their ten-day prison term, the young offenders are due to go before the parole board. In a real prison, parole is granted or denied at the halfway point of a life sentence. If the inmates can convince the panel that they have changed, they will be allowed to go home the following day. Sitting on the board are Mr Blunkett, prison general Professor David Wilson, criminologist Martin Glynn and clinical psychologist Dr Funké Baffour.

First to face the formidable line-up is James from Manchester. When Mr Blunkett asks him what he is looking for in life, James answers, “A nice house, a fast car and a nice bird.”

Birmingham boy Adam fares better when Dr Baffour asks him to define what respect means to him. “Acknowledging the other person is equal,” he says, “not thinking that I’m any better than them, talking to them in a polite way.”

But it is Justin who gets the best reception from the board. “You’ve impressed from the start,” says Professor Wilson. “What you see is what you get with you.” Not only has the Stockport lad proven his mettle in prison by volunteering to work as a catering orderly, he also has a promising future ahead of him having won a place in the Royal Engineers. During his interview, he recites a rap he has composed about the lessons he has learned from the experiment: “I’m not going back full circle down that track I’ve come.”

With their meetings out of the way, the boys now have to play a waiting game. The ex-cons know only too well how difficult this period of limbo can be. “I’ve seen people crawl the walls,” recalls Bob from Liverpool, who served nine years in jail for drug dealing. But unlike real-life jail, the inmates do not have to wait days or weeks to learn their fate. Out of all the young men, only one is granted parole – Justin. As his friends congratulate him, Justin is not the only one to shed some tears. Dave from Ipswich, who served nine years for burglary and handling stolen goods, breaks down as he reflects on what might have been. “If someone was to give me that chance when I was a kid, I wouldn’t have had to go through what I went through,” he says.

The next day, Justin packs his things and returns home. As he relaxes on the sofa with a takeaway pizza, the nine remaining boys’ only experience of the outside world is to be a single short visiting hour. “You try and grab everything you can out of that hour,” Bob recalls.

Among the visitors are Adam’s girlfriend and her newborn daughter. This close family bond is important to the 17-year-old, whose father disowned him two years ago. But after the happy reunion comes a tearful farewell. “I don’t want her to grow up to be like me,” he says. “Like I was.”

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett presents this hard-hitting new documentary series in which ten youths spend ten days in prison. Each of the teenagers has convictions ranging from theft to assault, but none of them have ever served time behind bars. In a unique experiment, they will find out what life in prison is truly like for the first time – but will it be enough to change their ways? In the opening instalment, the ten youths arrive at Scarborough Prison and face a tough time settling in to their new routine.

Closed for over a century, Scarborough Prison has now reopened to accept a new batch of prisoners – ten young delinquents who are at the crossroads between a life of honest toil and a life of crime. For the next ten days, the imposing Victorian jail is to play a part in a pioneering social experiment. These ten young men, each of whom has been in regular trouble with the police, will find out what life inside is actually like. For these repeat offenders, it is a final chance to rethink their choices in life before it is too late.

The scheme is championed by David Blunkett MP, who will monitor the inmates’ progress and sit on the prison’s parole board. Mr Blunkett regards the project as a “second chance” for the teenagers involved – and admits that it offers him an opportunity to conduct an experiment that he was never able to complete when he was Home Secretary. “Warning young people off a life of crime and giving them an alternative path in life surely has to make good common sense,” he says.

The young men, aged 16 and 17, have been put forward by their parents, who have been driven to their wits’ end by their children’s behaviour. Terry speaks for most of the parents involved when he reflects on his son Aaron’s misdemeanours. “Me and his mum still love him, we just don’t love his behaviour,” he says. “I just want my son back.”

The experiment begins when the ten young men arrive at the jail and are shown to their cells. Prisoners in the UK can spend up to 23 hours a day in their cells, and the ten volunteers will have to endure many hours alone. Like real prisoners, they will also be expected to work. Their day will be divided between education programmes and manual tasks in the workshop.

As their first full day gets underway, it is clear that not all of the new intake are coping well with their environment. Jamie from Sunderland has convictions for theft, shoplifting and fighting, but has never served a custodial sentence – until now. His parents know only too well the effects of time in jail, as Jamie’s dad, John, served eight years in prison for manslaughter. John now wishes he had experienced ten days of incarceration to help scare him onto the straight and narrow. “If it had happened to me years and years ago, I think I would been a different person,” he says.

As a second night in his cell beckons, Jamie becomes increasingly agitated and fellow inmate Aaron is asked to share his cell. When the prison psychologist arrives to talk to him, Jamie punches the wall, and staff decide that he is in no fit state to continue. Prison governor David Wilson has a last chat with Jamie before releasing him. “The first important thing to take away is: prison is not for you,” he says. A chastened Jamie returns home swearing never to return.

Three days into the project, the majority of the inmates seem to have settled in to prison life. Yet they are about to discover that they do not have the block to themselves. As part of the experiment, they are to be joined by ten former convicts with over 200 years of prison time between them. These men now work to rehabilitate young offenders, and they know every cold, hard fact of prison life only too well. How will the young inmates cope when forced to share a cell with a battle-hardened old lag?

Criminal Activities: Burglary and street robbery

Banged Up: Convict Daniel’s mum is very concerned about her son who has been in trouble with the police. Both her ex-husbands are in prison as is her brother. She feels that due to Danny being bullied at school he now bows to peer pressure and will do anything people ask of him to get their approval.

Daniel said: “My uncle’s in prison, he’s doing a long time, and when I went to see him I decided that I didn’t want any of my family to see me like that. Some people have told me it’s like a holiday camp, where you associate with other people you know. Prison’s not really a thing for me so I’m trying my best to stay out of it. I think I’ll cope with it, because at the end of the day we’re going to come back out of it. If I went to prison I’d come out a changed person, If I had to go, I’d just go you just have to do it – that’s it.”

Criminal Activities: Criminal damage and drunk and disorderly

Banged Up: Convict Benjamin hasn’t lived with his parents for two years. He is a constant source of worry to his parents and they hope that he will soon sort himself out and move back home. They are concerned about Benji’s drinking and feel that it is out of control and has a direct consequence on his behaviour. They want him to curb his drinking and hopefully that will keep him out of trouble.

Benjamin said: “I reckon I’m going to cope with it, I reckon I’ll probably have a bit of a riff with some of the boys and tell them who’s boss, but I don’t reckon it’ll be that bad.”

Criminal Activities: Robbery and assault

Banged Up: Convict Curtis’s father is currently serving a thirty year prison sentence. Curtis’s behaviour is already showing early warning signs that he may follow in his father’s footsteps. Growing up in a deprived area it is easy for Curtis to meet the wrong people.

Curtis said: “I reckon if I did end up getting locked up, if I just kept my head down and do what I had to do and then I’m out, I could handle it alright. Some people can handle it, they don’t mind because it’s another way of earning status.”

Dr Kennedy is Consultant in Clinical & Forensic Psychology at the Northern Forensic Mental Health Service for Young People at St Nicholas Hospital, Newcastle. Jack works in one of the only national services dealing with young people with mental health issues.

His expertise is in dealing with youth offenders who have committed a range of crimes from serious sexual or violent crimes to more minor offences. He enjoys working with this age group the most and is the reason he came to work in Newcastle. He sees this age group as the more creative with more possibilities for change.

Criminologist Martin Glynn has a masters degree in criminology coupled with 20 years experience as a practitioner working with offenders. During this time he has worked as a consultant on a variety of projects with different prison services across the country including Manchester and West Midlands.

This has involved working in all categories of prisons and coordinating a variety of different workshops including one centred on gun crime and gang affiliation.

He is currently working on a ‘Desistence’ programme and works with youths to try to get them to turn their backs on crime. He has written comprehensively on male hierarchy in prisons and also runs a number of workshops in prisons which are centred on gang affiliation.

Dr Baffour a Chartered Clinical Psychologist is the Managing Director of Ace Psychology Ltd. Dr Baffour also holds positions as of Head of Psychology for St Luke’s Hospital Group and is one of the Board of Directors for BUBIC; a substance misuse service for people in the community.

Dr Baffour graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Middlesex University. Soon after graduating she was employed as a Visiting Lecturer at Metropolitan University and began reading for her PhD.

She graduated from the University of East London with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Before becoming the MD for Ace Psychology she worked in the NHS as a clinical psychologist with clients with a range mental health problems.

Dr Baffour has delivered a number of training sessions on the following issues; Eating Disorders, Child Sexual Abuse, Learning Disabilities, Psychosis, Substance Misuse, Personality Disorders, Stress Management and Confidence Building.

Professor David Wilson is currently Professor of Criminology, Member of the Centre for Criminal Justice Policy and Research at Birmingham City University. David has worked as a Prison Governor at a variety of establishments and at the age of 29 became the youngest governing Governor in the country.

In 1995 he became Head of Prison Officer Training for England and Wales, and as such was responsible for all training related to riot command, physical education, induction training, and specialist training related to serious incidents.

David Wilson David has represented HM Prison Service all over the world. He has published widely on the Criminal Justice Service (CJS) and is the Editor of The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. He appears regularly on the TV and radio both as a commentator and as a presenter.

He also chairs the Policy Group of the Howard League for Penal Reform, the oldest prison reform charity in the world. David sits on the Management Committee of New Bridge, a charity formed by the late Lord Longford to befriend and support current and released prisoners.

Professor Wilson says: “Four out of five 16 and 17 year olds reoffend within two years of their release. Having governed the prison in Scarborough for this fascinating social experiment, I was very pleased to see that all of these the young men seemed to want to change their lives for the better.

“If one of the group doesn’t reoffend, the project should be seen as a success and if three or four of our boys don’t reoffend, within the next two years, then we will all have to look very carefully at what schemes such as this offer to the criminal justice system.”

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