Welcome to HMP Hooch: Almost 2,400 pints of illicit alcohol are seized from inmates in a single Surrey prison in just one year

  • HMP Coldingley staff found cell-brewed alcohol between May 2020 and April
  • Inmates can make ‘hooch’ by brewing fruit, water, sugar and bread in plastic bag
  • Inspectors said volume of hooch had ‘increased significantly’ in category C jail

Almost 300 gallons of illicit booze were confiscated from inmates in a single prison over a 12-month period.

Between May 2020 and last April, staff at HMP Coldingley in Woking, Surrey, discovered 2,390 pints of cell-brewed alcohol, which works out at just under six pints per prisoner.

Inmates can make ‘hooch’, which can be as strong as 14 per cent proof, by brewing fruit, water, sugar and bread in a plastic bag.

Between May 2020 and last April, staff at HMP Coldingley (above) in Woking discovered 2,390 pints of cell-brewed alcohol, which works out at just under six pints per prisoner (file photo)

Alcohol in prisons is a major problem, with the number of discoveries in British jails rising by six per cent over the past year, according to official Ministry of Justice figures.

Cody Lachey, a former inmate and prison commentator, said: ‘Prisoners can make a huge amount of money by brewing hooch, sometimes as much as £50 a bottle. Where you’ve got contraband, you’ve got debt. And when you have debt you’ve got fear, intimidation and violence.’

Inspectors said the volume of hooch had ‘increased significantly and has at times created major problems’ in the category C prison. Officials also confiscated 219 mobile phones and made 192 drug busts. An airport-style full-body scanner was installed in May.

Inspectors said the volume of hooch had ‘increased significantly and has at times created major problems’ in the category C prison (file photo)

The prison’s annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board noted: ‘The volume of drugs and mobile phones that continue to be found in the prison are of great concern to the board. Large quantities of alcoholic liquid (“hooch”) are also frequently found. Inevitably, the availability of these illicit items gives rise to increased levels of violence and bullying.’

Last night, a Prison Service spokesman said: ‘Assaults have fallen in the last year and a new body scanner is helping to stem the flow of illicit items which can fuel violence – part of our £100 million investment to bolster security across the estate.’

Last year, a prison officer at Coldingley was jailed for smuggling in contraband. Joshua Bossman-Brandt was caught with mobile phones, tobacco and an Xbox before a shift. Class A drugs were found in his vehicle in the prison car park. He was sentenced to six years and nine months at Guildford Crown Court in January 2020.

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