Real Crime: Wormwood Scrubs on One

9:30pm Tuesday, July 27 on TV One

Wormwood Scrubs prison is one of Europe’s largest jails, holding up to 1280 male inmates, from drug-addicted petty villains to sophisticated thieves and extremely violent criminals. New factual series Real Crime: Wormwood Scrubs (tonight on TV ONE at 9.30pm) follows the frenetic lives of prisoners and prison officers who make up this complex, noisy and often dangerous community.

At Wormwood Scrubs prison, up to 80 per cent of the inmates have drug issues; many have mental health problems; and most are unwanted by a society that has washed its hands of them.

‘The Scrubs’ has no such luxury: “A lot of our prisoners are illiterate, or innumerate; some of them have never worked in their lives,” says Phil Taylor, the Governor of Wormwood Scrubs. “Some have been criminals from a very young age and they are really damaged and difficult people to work with, all the more reason why we should work with them.”

Some wings can hold over 300 prisoners and with only 12 guards to keep order, bullying and violence can be a daily occurrence. “I’ve been coming here for years and years,” says serial offender Jason Cox. “If you don’t back it straight away, or let someone know you’re not messing about, that person or them people will end up ripping into you every single day.”

This compelling series follows staff as they attempt to keep control – often in the face of extreme provocation and violence and with little incentive for the prisoners to go straight. “I’ve known people who commit crime on purpose just to come to prison (to deal drugs) and get rich,” says Cox.

Tonight’s programme focuses on the staff of Wormwood Scrubs and on the testing conditions they work under. Officers in the segregation unit attempt to manage one of Britain’s most disruptive offenders; staff deal with a suicide in prison and then attempt to maintain calm on the wing as it erupts in a fit of anger; finally, the staff save the life of one prisoner who, estranged from his girlfriend, self harms and nearly hits an artery.

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  • Vivienne

    Very interesting show.  Does anyone know the name of the opera / aria the women were singing in one scene of the documentary.  It’s driving me crazy trying to find it.  I forgot to look on the film credits.  TVNZ can you help me with this?  Anyone?