Videos made by UK prisoners using secretly-held mobile phones are taking the internet by storm. In what seems like a complete disregard for the victims of their criminal acts, these inmates have now become a sensation on the internet, giving outsiders a sneak peek into prison life.
Thousands of such videos are now making rounds on social media, with #prisontok becoming popular on TikTok. Some inmates have their own YouTube channels, where they post interviews of criminals. Some videos even feature cellmates complaining that their sentence is too long and how people reacted amusingly when they were convicted by courts.
The Guardian reported that one prisoner interviewed an inmate named Ryan McPhee, who was jailed for 16 years in 2019 for chopping off a stranger’s hand using a machete in an unprovoked attack.
Thomas Frazer was another interviewee, who had been imprisoned for 21 years for blinding a man by stabbing him in the eye with a bottle.
A TikTok account with the username hmp5starchef often posts food vlogs, where an anonymous prisoner showcases his cooking skills using the prison kettle.
One of these channels was started by David Navarro in 2019, when he was nearing the end of his 10-year sentence. He started by asking other cellmates about the worst thing they have ever experienced in jail.
“I started the channel because I was fed up with the mainstream media’s false narrative about prison life. I had watched enough prison documentaries to know that before the cameras arrive they have the cleaners doing a crazy clean, and they only let ‘enhanced’ prisoners out of their cell. They want to make it look cushy,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
Upon being asked whether or not he was ever inquired by prison staff about having a mobile phone inside the cell, he said they knew about the YouTube channel but never found a mobile phone inside the cell.
“Smartphones are not easy to get in prison,” Navarro said. “If there are 60 people on a wing, maybe four or five have smartphones.”