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An unexploded bomb – and the fuse is burning

When the cauldron of hatred that is Britain’s prisons last boiled over, it cost the country untold millions to put the lid back on. Then, there were fifty thousand banged up inside – now it’s almost double that. Even people who post moronic messages on Facebook end up in jail, while our Cabinet of millionaires spouts nonsense about ‘learning lessons’ and bombards the rich with other people’s money. But trouble, as the Arab spring has shown, can spread like wildfire. And can go beyond control.

The spark that lights the flames this time is the naked ambition of a politician gifted with the task of solving the crisis in a bleak Victorian fortress jail that should have been pulled down years ago. He succeeds brilliantly – except that in the process the brother of one of Britain’s most dangerous men is killed. To draw the poison, other men of violence are shipped to safer places. Peace can reign again…

It is an illusion. By a combination of bad luck and chicanery, the chosen ‘place of safety’ is a powder keg. A playboy millionaire has been tipped into it for a savage six years, despite assurances from the highest in the land that he is immune from prosecution, while an American gangster betrayed by the secret services has a squad of hitmen who’ll stop at nothing to get him out. Mix in the hardman thirsting to avenge his brother, and a governor who is more humane than the Prison Service can stand or stomach – and the cauldron of violence and hatred can only overflow.

It spreads across the land like cancer. And the innocent – men, women and children – have no chance to escape.


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