Jailhouse shock: 3,500 pound splurge on British prison curries

November 25th, 2008 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 25 (IANS) The government has launched an investigation after discovering authorities at a maximum-security British jail splurged 3,500 pounds (Rs.265,000) on an Eid feast of lamb and beef curries for staff and prisoners.The Ministry of Justice said the amount spent on 200 meals for staff and Muslim prisoners at Whitemoore prison in Cambridgeshire was “not acceptable.”

Whitemoore has the highest proportion of Muslims in a British jail and the takeaway meals were believed to have been ordered for Muslim prisoners at the end of Ramadan and following complaints about the prison food.

“Such high costs for food are not acceptable and an investigation is under way,” a ministry spokesman said.

“One of the key challenges facing Whitemoor prison is the need to improve cultural understanding between staff and prisoners, a third of whom are Muslim, that’s the highest proportion of any prison in the country,” he added.

Staff drove 64 km to pick up the meals from a takeaway in the city of Peterborough, reports said.

The meals, including lamb rogan josh and beef madras, were bought at the end of last month to celebrate Eid.

A former non-Muslim inmate said: “They tried to do the curries in-house but the prison chefs couldn’t meet the budget of 1.80 pounds per prisoner - and the Muslim inmates complained that it tasted rubbish.”

Opposition Tory Party MP Stewart Jackson called the feast “an absolute disgrace.”

“Decent, law-abiding taxpayers will be appalled that their taxes are going on this,” he said.

Mark Wallace of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “This is meant to be a prison, not a luxury hotel. If they don’t like prison food then don’t commit the crime.”

Another report this week said the prison’s 100 Muslim inmates were bullying other prisoners and that there have been calls to disperse them in jails around the country.

And there was uproar last week when a convicted terrorist, Zia Ul Haq, who planned a ‘dirty bomb’ attack in London was found to have taken part in comedy workshops in the prison.

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