Sometimes, when the weather is sunny, I give my concessionary bus pass a treat by taking it for a ride along the coastal route on the excellent Arriva X18.
It likes to sit upstairs and look out of the window. I like to look at the passing scenery too, especially HMP Northumberland at Acklington, as it is (hopefully ) the nearest I shall ever get to such an institution.
One thing has disturbed me over several years. There is never any sign of life at the prison – cars, yes, people, no. It might just as well be deserted, but I believe it is not.
I often wonder why the inmates are not outside playing football. It would enable them to soak up vitamin D for the maintenance of their good health, and to work off any aggression they may feel.
There is an area that looks very much to me like a football field, but it has been allowed to run to weeds. I can only suppose that such an activity would cost more in supervision, which the Prisons Service finds uneconomical or cannot afford.
It might be argued that the prisoners have been very naughty and don’t deserve to play football, though it might equally be argued that many of them have never known loving care in stable families, and have not had a fair deal in life.
Like most of the people on the X18 bus, I have never been naughty, or at least I have never been caught. I recognise that it is necessary for everyone’s safety that the law must be supported by sanctions and that one of those sanctions has to be prison, but prisoners should be treated reasonably. Those of us who have not yet been caught may well owe it to ourselves to ensure this.
I just hope that when the inmates of HMP Northumberland are released back into the community, they will not feel too much anger and resentment at the way society has treated them during their incarceration.