Press Centre

The Best Little Prison In Britain?

  • Episode: 

    4 of 6

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Wed 21 Aug 2019
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    8.00pm - 8.30pm
  • Week: 

    Week 34 2019 : Sat 17 Aug - Fri 23 Aug
  • Channel: 

This information contained herein is embargoed from press use, commercial and non-commercial reproduction and sharing into the public domain until Tuesday 13 August.
The Best Little Prison In Britain?
Series overview:
This new documentary series for ITV goes behind the walls of a most extraordinary little prison - on the Isle of Man - where doing time is unlike anywhere else in Britain. 
The Isle of Man, with a population of 85,000 is a proud self-governing island with its own legal system and prison regime, perceived to have a harsh sentencing policy and the only jail is a one-stop shop for all offenders convicted there.  
The prison has some of the lowest reoffending rates in Europe - purportedly due to its progressive penal policies. 
Because of the island’s small population many of the prisoners and the staff already know each other, and men, women and youths are banged up together. This series paints a picture of how girlfriends and boyfriends, even generations of the same family, serve sentences in the same prison.
It focuses on the extraordinary stories of the prison staff and its inmates, including big characters like governor Bob, who uses his wealth of experience behind bars to implement his progressive ideas, hardline head of security Margo, prison shopkeeper George ‘Stores’, and Jonesy the singing prison officer.
The series explores the relationships between inmates including girlfriend and boyfriend Goldie and Lorraine, and father and son Ross Sr and Ross Jr.
Throughout the series inmates with convictions from fraud to robbery, drug dealing to cyber crime, mix together with staff at all levels from Governor to Head of Security to officers - and talk candidly about life on the inside of this prison like no other.
Episode 4
The fourth episode features a father and son serving time on the same wing. Ross Sr is doing a long stretch for dealing Class A drugs, and two months ago he was joined by his 18 year old son, also called Ross, who is initially on remand charged with Class B drug possession. Ross Sr explains his son coming into the prison has proved to be a reality check. He says: “Basically I was in jail for five years up until when he was 16. I partially blame myself for him being in here because obviously for years I wasn’t there as a father figure. That just makes me feel sad, like I haven’t done my job right.”
Ross Jr says if anything his father’s presence has improved his situation. He says: “When I first came in I was a bit, not scared but a bit [anxious], but having my dad on the wing, if I’ve got any problems, I go up and sit in his pad and and talk to him. It’s better for me.”
Model prisoner Adie is being allowed out of the prison without handcuffs for the first time for the annual prisoner church service. This is one of governor Bob McColm’s progressive incentives, allowing the best-behaved prisoners to meet local islanders in preparation for their release. Adie says: “We’re having tea and sandwiches as well. Don’t tell anyone, but I think that’s what most of us are going for, not the church service itself… This would almost make you commit another crime just to come back for these cakes.”
With tobacco banned, e-cigarettes are much prized between prisoners. But they will smoke anything they can get their hands on - from dried banana to tea bags, tumble drier fluff and even pubic hair. Among those who like a home-made smoke is Ross Jr, who says: “You can either smoke E-cigs or you smoke bananas. I’ve got some bananas here, have a look under the bed, I’ve got some bananas drying.”
No-nonsense head of security Margo is doing another raid on the wing. But it’s not Ross Jr’s stash of dried banana that is the top haul - it’s something far more serious in his dad’s cell. Prison officer Maggie, who uncovers the contraband, says: “I think what we may have found could possibly be err, a lump of cannabis. I found it in a milk powder jug. You can smell it straight away as well… The drugs usually, most commonly, come in up a prisoner’s back passage. More commonly known in prison as the 'prison pocket.’”
Welcome to prison life, Isle of Man style.