If I am honest my natural inclination is to be a wee bit canny, you know, spend less than the budget.

I often wondered: are you born this way? I doubt it. We learn much in childhood and from our environment.

So you can probably imagine my discomfort as I realised that the food spend for the last quarter was high! I consoled myself…numbers were up and we were catering for more than I had forecast, etc.

I decided I would talk it over with everyone. Morning tea break, a group effort; we would review our plans, menu, and collectively decide how to make the potatoes go a little further.

Potatoes - they need to go a bit further.

Potatoes – they need to go a bit further

“So, basically Chris you f#@ked up mate, you’ve cocked it right up.”

I started to clear my throat, mind racing, oh dear, how did we get to ‘f#@k up’…It’s only a few potatoes! Advice was pouring in…

“Deny it Chris. Deny everything, they’ll never know.”

This was getting slightly out of hand!

“He’s right Chris lad, my best defence in front of the ‘beak’ has always been deny, deny, deny.”

Voice from the back helpfully pointing out “Yeah but you’ve spent half your life inside.”

“I was stupid and I does my time” bristled the response “but…” (with a big smile) “…they only ever got me for a fraction of what I done.”

There is a truth here. For some of the guys their current sentence is for one crime. This one crime is the tip of a very big unprosecuted criminal iceberg.

My food budgeting problem was quickly dropped; far more interestingly, everyone was valuing the ‘criminal iceberg’.

Well! It worked out at over a million quid in criminal activity! And about £700,000 for court costs and time inside… So, one man has cost his community somewhere around £2 million?

“I never chose that life, it’s the one I got and I need to change now or I’m fucked, like when I was a kid…” His harsh words of reality silenced us, awkwardly.

Being born into a childhood of violence and abuse is not a choice.

Deny, deny, deny is the desperate plea of a man being judged by our system. But one could argue the system far too often uses prison to placate the public – not dealing with the root causes but in fact to deny, deny, deny that there is a problem at all?

So, where were we? Ah! Yes, one potato, two potato, three potato, four…