Bored fraudster invents board game with a difference

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The Independent Online

A convicted fraudster has turned to Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Home Secretary, for help in promoting a family board game on prison life.

A convicted fraudster has turned to Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Home Secretary, for help in promoting a family board game on prison life.

Terry Coss, who dreamt up his idea for "Incarceration" while in Brixton prison for a £1.2m fraud, has had difficulty convincing banks to lend him the £339,000 he needs in start-up funds.

But Miss Widdecombe has seen the political value in his project and asked for a meeting at Conservative Central Office to assess the board game's "feasibility."

This may not be a meeting of minds.

The shadow Home Secretary wants the game to be made by prisoners and the profits from the sales to go to victims of crime. Mr Coss says the idea that any profits should be used to compensate victims, rather than himself and the two fellow ex-inmates who have already patented their idea, needed careful consideration.

Miss Widdecombe may also be unaware that one of the central characters of Incarceration - the game with no "get out of jail free" cards - is a corrupt politician.

Nevertheless, the Conservatives say that the game, which also features a corrupt solicitor, a gangster and a safe cracker, could be used to promote Tory policy on prison life. By getting serving inmates to manufacture the game, Miss Widdecombe says, the prison system would no longer be perceived as a "soft touch".

The object of the game is to get out of jail by moving around the prison wings collecting various cards, including those with instructions from judges and the prison governor. In a realistic reflection of prison life, players can gain an advantage by trading "telephone cards" on the prison black market.

The winner is the one who gets to the end of the board and throws the "release" dice.

The Tories will have to move quickly if they want to capitalise on Incarceration. The Prison Service has already agreed to print the rules for the game and Securicor has asked Mr Coss to draw up a business plan. Martin Narey, the director general of the Prison Service, has also expressed an interest in bidding for the copyright before the game goes into full production.

Unsurprisingly, Mr Coss is keen to talk up the educational value of Incarceration rather than its money-spinning potential. "It will educate children that prison is not the place to be and act as a deterrent against crime and inspire other inmates to rehabilitate themselves for re-entry into society," he said.