A new documentary series landed on ITV last week which peers behind the curtains of Britain’s prison culture. From the guards who monitor the inmates to the relationships formed on the inside, the series claims to give closer access than ever before.
Former inmate of HMP Bullingdon Anthony Gooch was one of the most talked-about stars of episode 1 (Thursday, September 26th).
Reality Titbit spoke to Anthony about his experience on the series, problems with the prison system and what he is up to now…
How did everyone react when the camera crew turned up at HMP Bullingdon?
“There were a lot of people who didn’t want to be on camera but the majority seemed to be quite welcoming. They didn’t mind it, they thought it was a bit of a laugh.
Where I was a bit further ahead and a bit more on the ball, I knew it was a good platform to try and highlight a few issues.”
That role you inhabited – the “top dog” role – did that come naturally?
“That was the one thing they did which was a bit misleading. There’s no such thing as a “top dog.” They just came out with that.
What the prison service does have in HMP prisons is they have insider jobs – which is working for a charitable organisation within the prison service and offering support to prisoners while they’re inside, hence why they’re called insiders.
And then there’s another role, which is a relatively new role, which is the violence reduction rep. I was an insider and a violence reduction rep.”
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So, what’s a violence reduction rep?
“You’re a go-between between the inmates and the officers.
So, you’re constantly having to liaise with the officers and the prisoners, and as a result you end up having a good relationship with both sides.”
Was there one officer who stood out to you and who you had a real bond with?
“Oh, Mr Walker definitely. He just is brilliant.
I still believe now that to be an officer you have to be a certain type of person and he is the ideal candidate. He’s got the right mentality for the job, he’s got a very good temperament.
Like we said on the show, he knows where to draw the line between being an officer and being your friend.”
What do you think are the main problems with Britain’s prison system?
“Probation is just an absolute waste of time and I don’t think there’s enough support for young offenders. We’ve got one of the highest reoffending rates in Europe.
You can’t help everyone, but I do believe that a large proportion of young offenders we could be helping. We’re doing nothing for them and it’s costing the tax-payer £35-40,000 per prisoner a year!
At the minute we’re at an all-time high on prisoners, so how much money are we wasting? It’s ridiculous!”
What are you up to now since leaving Bullingdon?
“I’ve been a heavy goods driver for many years so I’m back doing that. I was an MMA fighter for nine years, so that was a large portion of my life.”
Have you got anything in the pipeline?
“I actually went for a meeting with a production company on behalf of ITV. Because of the response I’ve had from the show – it’s been so massive – they want me to do my own documentary series!
Hopefully we’re going to try and get that off the ground.[I’m] toying with the idea of doing a social experiment documentary on BBC 3. They want me to do that as well, so hopefully – fingers crossed – they’ll both take off.”
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What do you hope people gain from seeing Inside Prison?
“Just to highlight the fact that the prison service is struggling, it’s not working.
I firmly believe that as a nation people just pull the wool over their eyes and they won’t admit there’s a problem when there is one… I think it just needs a massive overhaul.”
WATCH INSIDE PRISON: BRITAIN BEHIND BARS THURSDAYS AT 9 PM ON ITV
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