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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 February 2007, 12:07 GMT
Teenagers say 'no way' to prison
Prison cell
Schoolchildren are given a glimpse of life behind bars
Schoolchildren have been given a taste of life behind bars as part of a project to raise awareness of the consequences of anti-social behaviour.

The UK-wide No-Way Trust, supported by prison officers, is touring secondary schools in the Borders in a bid to deter pupils from a life of crime.

The teenagers spend a day on the receiving end of strict prison life.

They also take part in a number of workshops from the perils of joy-riding to the impact of anti-social behaviour.

Second year pupils from Galashiels Academy took part in the first of the Prison Me No-Way roadshows.

If we can educate young people then I think we have a bigger chance of preventing people from inevitably ending up in prison
Insp Kenny Simpson

Brian Alison, a prison officer from Dumfries Prison who is leading the roadshows, told BBC Radio Scotland: "It has been a bit if a culture shock to them.

"A lot of young people nowadays see prison life as being like Bad Girls on TV and we are here to show them that real life in prison isn't like that."

He added: "Prison is something you don't really know about until you experience it first-hand.

"I see a lot of young people coming in and the effect it has on them. The vast majority of these people can be very scared when they first come in. It is not a very nice experience."

Michael, a prisoner who is serving a life sentence in a young offenders' institution for his part in a killing, said: "The loneliness closes in and you start thinking about people you know, people you would like to talk to but you can't because you are in jail."

Some of the pupils who took part said the experience had changed their perception of prison life.

'Exciting' project

One 13-year-old said: "I thought prison was something totally different compared to what we saw.

"I didn't think we would be confined to such a small space with people you didn't know."

Watson Crawford, a modern studies teacher at the school, said the project was "exciting and interesting".

"They (prison officers) are not pulling punches and if they (pupils) end up in custody, it is not a pleasant experience."

Inspector Kenny Simpson, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: "If we can educate young people then I think we have a bigger chance of preventing people from inevitably ending up in prison."

The roadshow moves to Hawick and Jedburgh at the end of February.


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