A fascinating insight into some of the country’s most dangerous young criminals serving time in Aylesbury Young Offenders Institution aired on ITV last night (Monday).
The one hour documentary, Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury, shed light on how volatile the 17-to-21-year-old inmates can often be.
With one in five serving life sentences the prison has a fearsome reputation as one of the worst in the country.
Speaking on the programme, induction officer Leanne Morgan said: “Every time a new one comes in they are nervous because they have heard there’s a lot of fights, four to seven times a day.
“It’s quietened down in the last year or so. But the violent incidents that do take place are very, very serious now, a lot of weapons are used. Pool cue round your head, a prison-made weapon in your throat, in your chest, in your head, in your forehead.
“There’s no rules and it’s not one-on-one here, it can be six on one and if staff don’t intervene potentially we could have deaths here.”
Producer and director Lee Phillips and his team spent more than four months and 200 hours interviewing more than 400 prisoners and officers for the two part documentary.
The first episode closely follows the arrival of 18-year-old serial offender Caspean Hogg who has transferred from Lancaster Farms Young Offenders Institution.
Hogg, who was locked up for a number of serious assaults and by his own admission once bit a man through the chest, says that ‘ever since I was seven, eight, nine, I’ve always wanted to kill people’ before adding: “My dad ended up getting murdered when I was six and it’s following me round in my head.”
Within hours of arriving Hogg, along with two other inmates, had taken another prisoner hostage. The trio barricaded themselves in the victim’s cell and demanded to be relocated back up north.
After several hours of negotiation the situation was calmed down and the trio gave up peacefully. The victim, who remains anonymous, later told of how he was threatened with broken glass, choked, told to strip naked and how he would be raped. However, he was too frightened to testify about the threat of rape to the authorities.
One of the hostage takers, Liam Brennan, who had his sentence extended as a result of the incident, said: “It surprised me it didn’t come up (when he was being sentenced). But you know, happy days.”
Hogg later told of how he has his own son. It is a common theme for the prisoners interviewed including Josh Haugh, 18, who committed GBH.
But unlike Hogg he behaves well and works in the laundry section.
Haugh said: “I’ve gone the easy way, I’ve made the sentence as easy as possible. I’ve got something to change for, I’ve got a kid a fiancé and a family who want me to be there.”
He was rewarded by being allowed to see his family and later transferred closer to them.
It was a rare positive moment during the documentary.
But governor Kevin Leggett was keen to portray in the programme that it is the minority who cause problems.
He said: “Ninety per cent knuckle down and do what we ask them to do, with the odd blips here and there. But there’s the remaining ones who are the ones that really are the problem ones for us and probably cause 90% of our issues. They just don’t want to settle down.”
The final part of Her Majesty’s Prison: Aylesbury airs at 9pm on Monday.