Convicts use ye olde Elizabethan slang to smuggle drugs past guards into prison

By Rightnow289 · Jun 8, 2009 · ·
  1. Rightnow289
    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.'

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  1. nibble
    Interesting but I don't see how this would actually help with what is surely the difficult part - actually physically getting drugs inside the prison?
  2. Routemaster Flash
    I love the idea that real Elizabethan criminals had slang terms for heroin, crack and SIM cards. :)
  3. sweettea
    Physically getting drugs in is remarkably easy (mother worked as a psychiatric nurse for a Texas prison, she had many stories.) There are all sorts of employees that are more than willing to earn an extra dollar (or pound) through smuggling or turning a blind eye. No clue to the circumstances in the UK, but presumably they are somewhat similar. Under-staffed, under-paid, and under-resourced. Have to give the UK prisoners points for creativity though!
  4. Routemaster Flash
    Yep, I've read that a lot of addicts say they find it easier to get hold of drugs inside prison than outside.
  5. welshmick
    Great :vibes:

    Fancy though - U go to Prison for smoking MJ

    U come out addicted to Heroin :cool:

    This is a good solution ?
  6. akack2
    Cant comes from Gaelic/Irish.

    The Irish for 'Talk' is 'Caint'

    The Irish Travellers/Gypsies are ethnically Irish but during the mass murder of up to 4million Irish during the so-called Famine this group of people upped roots and began to travel extensively often to Britain finding food wherever they could,they have never settled since.

    Viewed as a people apart the Travellers have never integrated back into society and are generally disliked and distrusted by the majority of the population in Ireland.Pikeys is the common term for them in England where they are also generally viewed as undesirables.

    In England the Travellers could speak Irish when dicussing and planning crimes and the English criminal classes could not understand what they were planning,the Travellers often overheard and stole English criminals ideas and carried out the plan before the English could themselves.This is regarded as the main reason for the creation of Cockney Slang-the English' very own 'secret' language.

    However to protect their plans from the Settled Irish (Non-Traveller) the Travellers had to make a new language-Cant.Words were often Irish words with one or two syllables switched around i.e Lakeen in Irish is Cailín or Girl in English (There is no 'K' in the Irish alphabet,'C' is pronounced as 'K'.As you can see the first syllable is simply reversed.

    This language has rarely been written and very little of it is available on paper,it exsists very much as a spoken language only.
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