THE prison where tennis star Boris Becker is serving time for fraud is known for its issues with serious violence and an infestation of rats.
The 1,300 criminals to call Wandsworth Prison home now includes the six-time Grand Slam winner after he was sent for 2½ years on Friday for £2.5million fraud.
The 170-year-old facility was prone to attacks amongst inmates almost every day across 2021 and 2020.
Charlie Taylor, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, says guards used forced 1,295 times – during four incidents daily.
Following an unannounced visit to the jail in September last year, the watchdog found litter and food were thrown from cell windows and the prison has a major problem with rats, mice and pigeons.
Becker, 54, has just spent his first weekend inside the Victorian compound in South West London after being convicted of hiding millions in assets that he owed in debts.
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Wandsworth, less than two miles from Wimbledon Centre Court, is a category B jail said to be rampant with drug abuse among its inmates.
Becker will have to grow accustom to a new lifestyle behind bars – and it may take some time to adjust.
Journalist and BAFTA-nominated documentary-maker Chris Atkins spent eight months inside HM Prison Wandsworth between July 2016 and March 2017 for tax fraud.
He says the first night inside what is believed to be one of the UK's is a shock to the system.
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Atkins kept a diary while inside before documenting his experience in his book A Bit of Stretch.
In explaining his first taste of life locked up, he wrote: "The first thing that hits me is the noise.
"Yelling, banging, screaming, grunting, barking, threatening, ranting, laughing, whining, arguing, fighting, howling, crying.
“It's as if someone has downloaded every single sound effect and is blaring them all out at once.
"The reception wing looks like it last had a makeover in 1895 when Oscar Wilde was here… jailed for homosexuality. It's basically Porridge meets One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, and is full of the most terrifying individuals I have ever seen.”
'JAIL GYM INSTRUCTOR'
Former governor Jerry Petherick said Becker would make an ideal gym teacher.
The ex-Wimbledon champ is being lined up for a cushy role as a jail gym instructor and may even teach lags “paddle tennis” — popular in prison and played with softer balls.
Petherick told The Sun: “Gyms are very popular in prisons. It’s a job a lot of prisoners want.”
But he warned that officers “would not want to show any signs of favouritism”.
Inmates have yet to see Becker at the Category B jail, which is close to Wimbledon.
A mother who visited on Sunday said: “There was a rumour he brought a tennis ball so he could throw it off the wall all day, like the Great Escape.”
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The German, who hid millions after going bankrupt, is likely to serve 15 months but may move at some point.
A friend of one inmate said he is unlikely to get a “rough time”, adding: “I’m sure most don’t think he’s done much wrong.”
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