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Students experience the life of an inmate in ‘Prison Project’

STUDENTS from Oakfield Academy and Selwood Academy in Frome are to take part in a prison experience day led by Frome Neighbourhood Policing Team.

The ‘Prison Project,’ which was conceived by PCSO Gary Maule, is designed to give students a better understanding of what it feels like to be arrested and to spend time in prison.

PCSO Gary Maule said, “It’s easy to explain to young people what would happen if someone breaks the law, but not that easy for some young people to understand what that would feel like.

“The Prison Experience is not a punishment and should not be seen as such. This is an educational experience that hopefully each student will gain knowledge to help them to make the right choices as they progress through life.

“Our two middle schools in Frome, Oakfield Academy and Selwood Academy, jumped at the chance to take part in the project and we’ll also be supporting students on the day. Parents of the students selected have been incredibly supportive and are fully on board with the project.”

The experience will begin with the students being ‘arrested’, processed (fingerprinted, photographed and DNA swabbed), then transported to HMP Shepton in a marked police crew bus.

Students will be met at the prison by two ex-prison wardens, they will be booked into the prison and given a number and an orange jumpsuit to wear, each student will be referred to as their number.

The students will then be given a tour of the prison by ex-wardens who will give stories of prison life, students will take part in chores around the prison and will experience what it is like to spend time in a cell. The prison staff will then conduct a workshop  surrounding offending behaviour and making the right choices. To lighten the mood slightly, students will take part in a “jailbreak” where they will have to solve puzzles to escape their cell. Students will eat their lunch at the prison, this will be very basic consisting of a sandwich, bottle of water and a piece of fruit.

Gary added, “The arrest procedure will be faked, no details will be retained by police and all resources will be presented to students at the end of the experience.

“The prison experience is not a punishment and should not be seen as such. This is an educational experience that hopefully each student will gain knowledge to help them to make the right choices as they progress through life.

“Students will be made aware that police officers and prison wardens will be conducting the day in role play to make the day as believable as possible. We will lighten the mood when needed and students will be supervised throughout the experience.

“Students will not be forced to do anything that they are not comfortable with but they will be encouraged to participate fully. Should any student become upset, a member of staff from the school will be on hand to comfort the student and an assessment will be made as to whether it is appropriate for the student to continue – I don’t foresee a reason as to why this should happen but we are able to act if necessary.”