Female inmates at South London prison are piling on so much weight they are breaking toilet seats
- Inspectors said ‘large proportions’ of 210 Downview inmates were ‘overweight’
- Women are locked in for 22 hours a day, with just 30 mins allowed for exercise
- While they are stuck inside their cells, many end up feasting on snacks instead
Prisoners are piling on so much weight inside they are constantly breaking toilet seats.
Inspectors at HMP Downview in South London said that a ‘large proportion’ of the 210 female inmates were ‘overweight’, with many gaining weight over lockdown.
Women are locked in their single cells for around 22 hours-a-day, with just 30 minutes allowed out for exercise, with many ending up feasting on snacks in their cells instead.
Prisoners even complained to inspectors from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) about piling on the pounds since being jailed after falling into a pattern of ‘comfort eating’.
Inspectors at HMP Downview in South London said that a ‘large proportion’ of the 210 female inmates were ‘overweight’, with many gaining weight over lockdown
A report into the jail stated that many in-cell toilet seats had been broken in the past year – and had to be replaced.
It stated: ‘Toilet seats were broken in several cells on different wings.
‘We were informed that they broke regularly.’
Commenting on the jail’s health promotion strategy, the inspectors said it aimed at ‘tackling obesity’ in the jail, as well as serving up ‘lighter meals’, like salads.
The report stated: ‘A holistic well-being programme was promising.
‘It aimed to tackle obesity and included providing psychological services offering advice on emotional eating.’
A jail source said that it was ‘difficult’ to keep up with the number of toilet seats being wrecked, adding: ‘At one point we were struggling to replace the broken loo seats at all.
‘Some of them only last a week or two before they start cracking and we don’t hear the end of it until we get a replacement.’
Another recent report into the jail stated that inspectors were ‘concerned about high levels of obesity’ among inmates at the jail.
It stated: ‘The Board has noticed, and is concerned about, high levels of obesity and weight gain in some women.
‘The prison promotes healthy eating and makes sure that the women are aware of the risks of obesity.
‘Nonetheless, a large proportion of the women appear to be overweight, and a number have commented to the Board about their weight gain while in prison.’
The jail, which is also home to the UK’s first dedicated transgender unit, is known for serving up ‘generous portions’ of food to lags.
Typical grub served up includes fish and chips, pasta bakes, burgers, roast chicken, curries and pizza – with desserts including doughnuts, spongecake and crumble and custard.
The prison has agreed to draw up a new ‘health promotion strategy’ alongside the NHS to combat health problems in prisoners ‘holistically’.
The aim is to treat the ‘whole person’ – taking into account the body, mind, social factors – to solve underlying issues.
Among the areas to be targeted include obesity, exercise, healthy eating and nutrition, depression, anxiety, substance misuse and smoking.
There are also plans for review of the ‘quality and nutritional content’ of the diet – and the ‘promotion of healthy eating’.
Advice on obesity and healthy eating includes exercising regularly, doing ‘fast walking or jogging’, eating a ‘balanced diet’, as well as ‘eating slowly’.
A spokesman for the Prison Service said: ‘Offenders are provided with healthy meals and the opportunity to exercise throughout their time in prison.’
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