Prisoners learn old slang to help smuggle drugs into prisons
View attachment 8972 You might think that prison officers would be delighted that their inmates were becoming well-versed in Elizabethan dialect.
But far from any self-improving study of the works of Shakespeare, criminals are instead becoming fluent in thieves' cant, a dialect used by 16th-century rogues to keep their plans secret.
Nearly 500 years later, their modern-day counterparts have adopted the slang and updated it to help them smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons.
The practice was uncovered at Buckley Hall Prison in Rochdale, when staff noticed that the same phrases were being used in monitored phone calls and letters between inmates and loved ones.
The dialect, thought to originate from medieval gipsies, was used by all manner of villains in Shakespeare's England, becoming known as thieves' cant or rogues' cant.
But it was thought to have become obsolete until its unexpected revival, believed to have been led by criminal members of the travelling community.
The Ministry of Justice is so worried about the use of the code that it has issued a security alert to governors at jails in England and Wales.
Examples of the new thieves' cant include 'chat' or 'onick' meaning heroin; 'cawbe', meaning crack cocaine; and 'inick', for phone or mobile phone SIM card.
Inmates also use normal English in code - 'Bring the children' means to bring drugs, while the phrase 'Lots of hair on the children' means 'bring lots of drugs'.
An insider at the 381-prisoner, category C establishment revealed: 'This is the most ingenious use of a secret code we have ever come across.
'Elizabethan cant was only used by a tiny number of people and it is quite amazing that is has been resurrected in order to buy drugs. Some inmates will try anything to get contraband into jail.'
Source - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1191475/Convicts-use-ye-olde-slang-fool-guards.html
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