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Monday, 17 February, 2003, 13:26 GMT
Row over prison diet research
Prison
Prisoners became less violent after diet change
The Prison Service has said it will not fund further research into prison food even though a recent study found that changing inmates' diets cut violent behaviour by 35%.

The study was carried out at Aylesbury Young Offenders Institute by the research charity Natural Justice led by Bernard Gesch, a senior research scientist at Oxford University's physiology department.

In a blind trial, one group of prisoners were given a multi-vitamin mineral and fatty acid supplement while another group were given dummy pills.

Among those taking the supplements, violent incidents were reduced by more then a third.

But in this week's Food Programme on BBC Radio 4, the Prison Service says that while it has agreed to further studies in two prisons, Warren Hill and Stoke Heath, it has not accepted the findings of the original study and will not be putting any money into further research.

The decision has outraged the former chief inspector of prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham QC who described it as "totally infuriating as well as being extremely stupid".

Golden opportunity

Sir David Ramsbotham
Sir David Ramsbotham has said the authorities should act
Sir David, a trustee of Natural Justice told the Food Programme that the Prime Minister, Tony Blair had famously promised to be tough on the causes of crime and now he was missing a golden opportunity.

He calculates that the small amount of money it would cost to provide prisoners with nutritional supplements would massively reduce prison costs and might even go some way to easing the crisis in Britain's overcrowded jails.

Sir David also believes that the findings of the study could be used to help deal with delinquent behaviour in schools and the wider community.

He tells the Food Programme that this research might prevent people going to prison in the first place.

The Food Programme is broadcast on BBC Radio Four on Sunday at 1230 GMT and Monday at 1600 GMT.

See also:

13 Feb 02 | Health
21 Jan 02 | Health
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