The prison kitchen project where every nut and bolt is counted in

The Clink

The boss of The Clink – the award-winning charity that operates fine dining restaurants in prisons – has given a revealing account of the unique challenges it faces equipping kitchens at high security sites. 

Chris Moore, who has overseen the launch of restaurants at HMP Brixton, Cardiff, High Down and Styal, said installing kitchens in working prisons staffed by inmates presented the sort of logistics hurdles that would be alien to high street foodservice operators.

The need to track which materials go in and out of the kitchen environment during fit-out means suppliers and contractors are forced to comply with strict checks that even involve logging the exact number of nuts and bolts they intend to use.

“It’s not just a case of the installation company simply turning up and fitting, we also have to make sure the staff are security cleared – they all have a tool sheet where they check in their tools. On average you can have around 1,000 tools being counted in and out every day. We count in the screws, nuts, bolts and washers, so it’s quite an operation.”

Mr Moore said contractors were also forbidden from bringing in the kind of everyday items they would normally take to a job.

“You can’t have any phones, cameras, or any technology at all, so again with a lot of our up-to-date equipment where normally someone would come and plug a laptop in for diagnostics, we don’t have that option. Also, you have to be escorted absolutely everywhere in the prison so if you’ve forgotten something it’s a very long walk and can take the best part of an hour to get there and back.”

Mr Moore, who was speaking at the recent Commercial Kitchen Show, said The Clink’s vision is to train as many as 1,000 prisoners a year, improve their chances of finding work and reduce reoffending rates. Prisoners are supported with a Level 2 NVQ in foodservice and food preparation.

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