Not your usual MUGSHOTS: How hardened criminals can smile and pose up in special photobooths in at least four prisons… but MoJ admits it has ‘no idea’ how many more are in UK jails
- The photobooths have started creeping up in prisons throughout the country
- Their idea is to give families a memento of visiting their loved ones in jail
- At least four feature them, but MoJ does not know how many more there are
- Anti-violence campaigners have slammed them after ‘gun sign’ pics emerged
At least four jails have installed photobooths for offenders to have pictures taken with their visitors – but the prison service say they don’t even know how many are in any others.
The bespoke areas lets families visiting their loved ones create mementos of their trip behind bars.
MailOnline revealed in June HMP Guys Marsh floated plans which the Ministry of Justice later said would not go ahead.
But pictures emerged today of convicted killer Alex Henry, 30, and his lawyer sister Charlotte making ‘gun signs’ on her Twitter feed inside HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire.
And it appears the unusual booths could be more widespread than previously thought.
Despite strict rules on prisoners sharing pictures online, the MoJ says it does not have any data on how may photobooths across the prison estate.
But a MailOnline audit has found them around the country, predominantly in jails run by contractors Serco.
HMP Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire appears to have been the first one ever installed back in 2018.
This is the photobooth installed in HMP Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire for visitors
HMP Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire appears to have been the first prison visitor photobooth ever installed back in 2018
Alex Henry, 30, and his sister Charlotte – a lawyer – made the poses inside HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire
Its existence was only revealed following an Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons report which described it as a ‘good innovation’.
At the time Serco said it had been introduced to help children have a better experience of visiting their fathers.
But since the HMIP praise the concept seems to have spread further across the country.
In January 2020 it was announced that Serco’s Kilmarnock and Askham Grange had them installed in their visit halls.
Special themed backdrops can be added to the photos with visitors able to buy copies of the prints.
At the time Serco director Michael Guy said they would let children have ‘a more positive experience of visiting their fathers in prison’.
Today it emerged HMP Dovegate in Staffordshire had also had one of the booths installed.
It prompted campaigners to blast pictures of a convicted killer and his sister who made ‘gun signs’ while posing inside the prison.
HMP Guys Marsh wanted to introduce a photobooth but it was abandoned due to cost issues
HMP Dovegate’s photobooth was revealed by lawyer Charlotte in pictures with her brother
Is 2018 report reason why more booths are being installed?
A 2018 report by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons praised HMP Lowdham Grange for the specialist photo area.
It read: ‘Visits arrangements were reasonable but visits did not always start on time.
‘Work with prisoners and their families was improving and some innovations were good, such as the visits photo booth and the new family induction days.
‘There were no longer any family or relationship courses.’
Alex Henry, 30, and his sister Charlotte – a lawyer – made the poses inside the jail in the dedicated area.
Miss Henry explained that she was short of pictures of herself with her brother before making the poses in the prison photobooth, before posting the images on her Twitter account.
Mothers Against Guns told The Sun newspaper: ‘What is the jail doing? And his sister should know better.’
And in June it was revealed hardened criminals serving time behind bars wanted their own ‘fun’ photobooth so their visiting children can have ‘special keepsakes’ of the day.
The makeshift booth was planned for HMP Guys Marsh, which was branded ‘out of control’ by the chief inspector of prisons in 2014.
It was dreamt up by the Dorset Category C jail’s Family Champions, who are made up of prisoners recruited from the lock-up’s population.
Photobooths of this type are usually complete with props, including funny hats and silly glasses and are very popular at weddings for guests.
It was proposed at the jail’s Families and Significant Others Meeting in May.
The plan was later binned off, citing budget constraints.
Surprisingly the MoJ said it had no data on how many photobooths were in the prison estate.
But a spokesperson insisted: ‘Strong family ties are proven to reduce reoffending and protect the public but prisoners can be punished for breaking rules on sharing photos.’
It did not explain what rules there were on sharing photos, but it is understood it relates to them using social media.
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