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WhitCo – food service specialists for UK prisons

With a UK prison population of more than 80,000 and a staff of some 43,000, the job of keeping the prison sector well-fed every day is vital. Food plays an important part in maintaining morale and promoting the good running of an institution. WhitCo MD Tony Butler is a specialist in the custodial sector and reckons he’s spent more time behind bars than he cares to remember – all in the interests of customer service of course.

WhitCo’s experience of working in the custodial sector stretches from Edinburgh to Wiltshire in prisons and centres up to and including Category A prisons.

The number of people in prison in the UK has risen from a little over 50,00 in the mid-nineties to about 85,000 today with that number forecast to rise further. In the process prison sizes in the UK are increasing. HMP Berwyn, opened in 2017, is the UK’s largest prison (and the second largest in Europe) with 2,100 inmates.

Prison expansion programme keeps Tony busy in the kitchen

The number of people in prison in the UK has risen from a little over 50,00 in the mid-nineties to about 85,000 today with that number forecast to rise further. In the process prison sizes in the UK are increasing. HMP Berwyn, opened in 2017, is the UK’s largest prison (and the second largest in Europe) with 2,100 inmates.

WhitCo MD Tony Butler has been helping to feed the custodial sector for more than 20 years. He has worked in prisons throughout Britain and Northern Ireland and has seen the changes for himself.

Kitchen sizes are increasing in line with the augmented size of prisons, but the main elements of his work have remained unchanged. Supplying and fitting catering and bakery equipment in a prison is much like working in any other commercial setting, he says – apart from the obvious need for security at all times. Tony says that “sterile” environments such as new build or closed facilities are easier to work in than in the middle of an operating prison kitchen, but the WhitCo team has plenty of experience of both.

At the same time WhitCo have also supply and installed training kitchens to help inmates build a career in the catering industry outside by gaining NVQ qualifications. Some UK prisons have gone so far as to open and run successful commercial restaurants on site to train staff to gain valuable experience.

It’s not always plain sailing though. Tony’s personal experience includes being locked in for his own safety during the course of an incident at one prison. However, it hasn’t lessened his enthusiasm for working in the sector.

Just like any catering establishment prisons need to be able to rely on the quality of their equipment, and count on a speedy and reliable service when things go wrong. And in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a closed community, the supply and provision of good food, often with a local or ethnic bias, is immensely important.

Prisons where we’ve worked…
HMP Addiewell
HMP Ashwell
HMP Aylesbury
HMP Bedford
HMP Belmarsh
HMP Berwyn
HMP Brixton
HMP Bronzefield
HMP Bullingdon
HMP Bure
HMP Camp Hill
HMP Doncaster
HMP Erlestoke
HMP Birmingham
HMP Elmley
HMP Five Wells
HMP Forest Bank
HMP Fosse Way
HMP Frankland
HMP Gartree
HMP Highdown
HMP Highpoint
HMP Holme House
HMP Kingston
HMP Leeds
HMP Lewes
HMP Lincoln
HMP Rye Hill
HMP Lindholme
HMP Littlehey
HMP Liverpool
HMP Lowdham Grange
HMP Maidstone
HMP Millsike
HMP Moorland
HMP Northumberland
HMP Norwich
HMP Nottingham
HMP Parkhust
HMP Pentonville
HMP Peterborough
HMP Plymouth
HMP Rochester
HMP Send
HMP Stocken
HMP Stockton on Tees
HMP Swaleside
HMP Thamesmead
HMP Thameside
HMP the Mount
HMP Wakefield
HMP Wandsworth
HMP Woodhill MK
HMP Yarlswood

 

Please feel free to reach out to Tony for more information on our solutions for MoJ and MoD projects.

Tony Butler
Managing Director
T: 01832 737200
M: 07977 489152
E: tony@whitcoltd.com
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