Welsh prisoners will be tucking into many variations of the traditional Christmas dinner over the festive period but one thing’s for sure – everyone gets the option of turkey will all the trimmings.
WalesOnline submitted a freedom of information request to all the prisons in Wales asking for their festive meal plans and it’s fair to say prisoners won’t be going hungry.
And at one prison inmates can work off any over-indulgence with a 5km Santa dash or a winter walk.
The menus for each facility reveal catering options for vegetarian, vegan, and halal diets with special dinners served on Christmas Day and also on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day at one jail.
All prisons will be serving the main meal at lunchtime with at least three options although none of the staff will be taking part and do not get to receive Christmas dinner at any public sector prison in Wales.
And while plans will be subject to Covid-19 restrictions and outbreak control measures meals will be prepared and cooked in the prison’s kitchen like any other year and staffing on Christmas Day will be based on weekend regimes.
This is exactly what’s on offer for the thousands of people spending Christmas behind bars in Wales.
Cardiff is a category B prison with a “certified normal accommodation” (CNA) level of 532 men and an operational capacity of 820. Some inmates are serving life sentences.
The men will have some festively-themed activities to keep them entertained thanks to “distraction packs” developed by the education department. The prison is also arranging quizzes and competitions such as a Christmas card design competition.
There won’t be a live Christmas service this year although there are plans for pre-recorded services to be played on the prison’s information TV channel.
On Christmas Day itself prisoners will wake up to either a breakfast pack and/or a croissant served with strawberry jam.
The main event will include either roast turkey, beef, or gammon, turkey cordon bleu (halal), or vegan wellington. All options will be served alongside the standard roast potatoes, roast parsnips, diced swede and carrot, Brussels sprouts, Yorkshire puddings, plus mini sausage and gravy.
If they have room for dessert inmates can choose between the classic Christmas pudding with custard sauce or fresh fruit.
Dinner options in the evening will include a chicken mayo baguette or a turkey dinner slice, a peanut butter and banana wrap, or a mushroom slice. Those will be followed by a selection of Christmas cake, crisps, fruit, and Galaxy buttons.
Swansea’s prison, in Oystermouth Road, has a CNA level of 268 and an operational capacity of 500 holding category B prisoners and young adults.
All prisoners will have the opportunity to attend one of three faith services on Christmas Day should they wish to. Multiple sessions are being laid on to maintain social distancing within the chapel. The following services are planned for December 25:
- 9.15am – Roman Catholic Christmas mass
- 10.15am – Christmas service
- 1.30pm – Friday prayers (as usual for A wing)
Swansea prisoners will get hot options to kick off Christmas Day with hash browns and fried eggs served alongside their cereal and milk at breakfast.
Lunch will be either a vegan roast vegetable roulade, roast turkey with all the trimmings, gammon chop and pineapple, cod in parsley sauce, or turkey cordon bleu (halal). All are served with honey-roast parsnips and carrots, Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cranberry sauce, and gravy. Pudding is fruit cake and custard.
There are some substantial plates available at dinner time including spinach and chickpea pie, salt fish patty, chicken salad, pork pies, and beef sausage rolls.
Anyone still hungry can help themselves from a selection of cheese and biscuits, white chocolate muffins, chocolate bars, fruit juice, crisps, tangerines, dried fruit, and mince pies.
HMP Usk and Prescoed
The two prisons – Usk and Prescoed – operate in different locations but under the same management team.
Usk is a small category C training prison built in the 19th century that for many years has specialised in delivering sex offender treatment programmes and has a capacity of 273.
Prescoed, located three and a half miles away, is a category D open prison holding 230 men across 11 “modern, purpose-built, detached accommodation blocks” housing approximately 20 people each.
Neither facility is planning to hold any religious ceremony while meals for the men at Usk will be prepared at Prescoed and delivered on the day.
Prisoners in both facilities can look forward to a traditional turkey dinner option which comes with stuffing balls, Yorkshire pudding, and pigs in blankets.
Vegans and vegetarians have to settle for the Quorn meat-free roast while the halal option is a chicken breast in cranberry gravy.
Dessert is simply Christmas pudding and vanilla sauce.
For prisoners feeling peckish at dinner time they can choose from a gammon ham sandwich with chutney, Chinese-style tofu wrap, cheese and onion sandwich, or a festive turkey dinner slice. Crisps, chocolate bars, fruit, Christmas cak,e and chocolate orange cookies will also be on offer to satisfy those with a sweet tooth.
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The so-called “super-prison”, which opened in Wrexham in February 2017, is the largest prison in Wales and is home to more than 2,100 category C male prisoners. Category C inmates are defined as those who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are unlikely to try to escape. It is typically for those convicted of minor offences and who are serving shorter sentences no more than a few years in length.
Over the festive period prisoners will be able to take part in a range of activities including poetry, writing, art, gym, and competitions. On Christmas Day itself the PE department will be facilitating a Santa dash (5km run) and winter walk (5km walk).
There are no plans to deliver a religious service in person although a pre-recorded service will be broadcast on the in-cell televisions.
Food-wise inmates will be treated to a cooked breakfast of halal burger, halal sausage, bacon, boiled eggs, baked beans, and hash browns complete with a bread roll and margarine.
There will be five options for the big Christmas dinner: roast turkey, chipolata roll with sage and onion stuffing and gravy; halal roast chicken with a mini chicken sausage, sage and onion stuffing, and gravy; roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and gravy; grilled fish with cheese and tomato; or sweet potato and spinach wellington.
Tea time will offer baguettes with a range of fillings including cheese and onion, chicken mayo and ham and tomato, all served alongside a cheese and onion pasty and onion bhaji with either mint or chilli sauce.
They’ll be washed down with a can of Coke, Mars bars, Christmas cake, satsumas, crisps, and a mince pie.
In HMP Parc, a privately-run jail in Wales operated by G4S, around 1,000 convicted male adult prisoners and remanded and/or convicted young offenders will see Christmas behind bars.
The regime will be “quieter than normal” during the festive period meaning some healthcare and other important appointments will go ahead as normal but work and education will be closed. There will be no social visits on Christmas Day itself.
But inmates don’t have to sit in their cells all day – there will be a number of social activities organised by staff including pool, table tennis, chess, bingo, and quiz competitions while in the gym staff will run normal PE programmes.
There will also be special broadcasts on the internal radio station, Planet Parc, throughout the festive period including carol services, Muslim reflection services, and a new year message service.
The Christmas menu option at the Bridgend facility is exactly the same as in Swansea.
Inmates can also look forward to slightly more indulgent offerings on Boxing Day with a special lunch menu featuring BBQ bean cassoulet, mackerel fillet with cous cous, ham and cheese jacket potato, Cajun chicken breast fillet, and lamb dhansak with accompaniments of vegetable rice, naan, fried potatoes, and steamed vegetables. For pudding they get kiwi or cake and custard.
The Boxing Day evening meal will offer spicy bean burgers, Caesar salad, BBQ chicken fillet burger, fish fillet burger, or cheese burger – all served with chips, garlic mayo, and baked beans and followed by mince pies and fresh plums.
Parc prisoners will be welcoming in 2021 with a New Year’s Eve dinner featuring mushroom risotto, fish katsu curry, pork chow mein, or tandoori chicken leg.
And on New Year’s Day lunch will have a breakfast theme with either a vegan, traditional, or halal brunch on offer.