"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Thursday, 5 March 2009

It's the Ambiance, Dear

I read many strange things about Britain every single day, but this one stood out.

After a psychologist did some research, the governor at HMP Hull, a Victorian-built prison, spent £1,800 on 5 tropical fish tanks to 'help inmates relax'.

HM Prison Service are facing officer strikes over pay disputes, and many officers argue staffing levels in some prisons are at dangerously low levels.

Couple this with the fact there aren't enough prison places, and Justice Minister Jack Straw recently pleaded with Magistrates to avoid passing custodial sentences unless it was absolutely vital (in his world that presumably would only apply to some sort of double murder).

Psychologists defended the cost, saying that the 'improved ambiance' would 'calm stressed inmates and therefore improve life for staff''.

Yes, it's all about the ambiance, a word I often associate mistakenly with hotels rather than prisons. What next? A star ranking system? Officers moonlighting as waiters?

Maybe if the inmates had just kept fish as children, they'd have been less stressed and wouldn't have turned to crime in the first place.

How simple the world is for some.

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