Prisoners brewing gallons of hutch alcohol at HMP Norwich

4:00 PM on July 16, 2022

4:18 PM Jul 16 2022

Prisoners have been found brewing large batches of their own alcohol in Norwich Prison.

Prison staff using detection dogs have revealed 15 liters fermented in buckets under a desk, seven liters in a cupboard and nine liters under the bed, over the past year.

The Independent Monitoring Board said staff at Norwich Prison have worked tirelessly to mitigate the effects of the lockdown on inmates
– Credit: Archant

Hooch is brewed by mixing fruit, water, sugar, and bread into a plastic bag for what would be a super strong drink.

Independent inspectors said its fermentation in cells remains “a significant problem, exacerbating potential violence against officers and among prisoners and potentially endangering the health of prisoners who drink it.”

In its annual report for 2021-22, the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) of HMP Norwich raised concerns about the quantities of drugs that continue to be in circulation, especially cannabis and spices.

The IMB said the persistent and systemic staff shortage, exacerbated by Covid, has overwhelmed all aspects of prison life and means that inmates’ systems including education programs have been cut or curtailed.

Norwich prison cell

The Norwich prisoner has suffered from the boredom and frustration of being kept in cells for longer during the pandemic
– Credit: Archant

She added that this undermined the ability of staff and management to make prison a “place of safety and reform.”

Council members also expressed concerns that assessment and care plans for some self-harmed prisoners did not live up to best practice.

The prison saw three self-deaths and an increase in self-harm with 181 reported incidents.

The prisoners’ boredom and frustration with their confinement in the cells were eased by televisions and telephones installed in the cells.

Stephanie, President of IMB Norwich, said: “Prison staff have worked hard to keep and support prisoners as they spend many hours in cells due to Covid restrictions and severe staff shortages.

HMB Norwich

Independent inspectors have raised concerns about staff shortages and self-harm among prisoners
– Credit: Archant

The installation of cell phones and a video calling service helped maintain family ties, as did the tireless work of the Spurgeons charity.

“However, the ongoing staffing shortage means that inmates continue to struggle with loosened regimes, which is very worrying.”

The Office of Immigration and Refugees has also raised concern that prisoners with psychological problems will continue to be held in the separation unit “because there is no other suitable safe place”.

There was a general decrease in violence and officers were forced to use force.

But IMB added: “Gangs are an ongoing issue and with limited accommodations available, it is difficult to divide members of these gangs.”

The council said it had concerns about the planned increase in prisoner numbers and wrote to the prison minister to ask if this would be compatible with additional education and other facilities.

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