Three of the men jailed over the cricket match-fixing scandal were due to start their sentences last night in a cold and cramped Victorian prison, where conditions for many prisoners were described as "below what could be classed as decent" in a damning inspectorate report this year.
Salman Butt, 27, Pakistan's former captain; fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28; and Mazhar Majeed, 36, the corrupt sports agent, were expected to be taken to Wandsworth Prison in south London where Muslim and ethnic minority prisoners have reported feeling more unsafe than other inmates on their first night, according to the inspection report.
In his damning assessment, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, said in August the treatment of too many prisoners was "demeaning, unsafe and fell below what could be classed as decent".
The report said that victims of bullying were not adequately protected and some prisoners were out of their cells for just two hours a day. It also added that "black and minority ethnic prisoners were disadvantaged in significant areas of the prison".
The category-B prison has seen high-profile prisoners pass through its gates within the last year, including Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, who was held there on remand, and the disgraced MP David Chaytor after his conviction over the expenses scandal.
The men were unlikely to receive any preferential treatment, prison staff said. After handing over valuables, they will have gone behind screens to strip and given just a towel to wear, said Mark Leech, the editor of Converse, the prisoners' newspaper. They will have been searched, weighed and measured.
After seeing a doctor and being told to supply a urine sample for drug tests, they will have been given a blanket, pillow and sheet to spend their first night in cells where, inspectors reported in August, racist graffiti was scrawled on the walls.
In addition to daily exercise in the yard, the professional sportsmen and Majeed will have the opportunity to sign up for sports classes and may not be completely cut off from the sport they sullied, according to Stewart McLaughlin, the branch secretary of the POA, the union representing prison officers.
While there will be no outdoor cricket, staff may run games using softer balls and smaller stumps inside one of the prison's three gyms. Though, with some 1,600 inmates held there, they will get only a few opportunities a week. McLaughlin said the men need have no fears of being picked on despite their wealth and formerly elevated status. "They will be well treated," he said. "We've had other high-profile people in here, and they have all been treated with professionalism."
The last man convicted, Mohammad Amir, 19, was expected to be taken to Feltham Prison for young offenders.
Final sentences: Judge stresses deterrent effect
Two years and eight months and 16 months, to run concurrently
Judge's remarks "Your position as manager to half a dozen members of the Pakistan team and your close friendship with Salman Butt meant that you and he together were in a position to influence other players as you did. You stand alone as a non player, who decided... to make as much money as you could from the game of cricket – by corrupting those involved."
30 months and two years, to run concurrently
Judge's remarks "It is clear to me that you were the orchestrator of this activity. Because of your leadership status, your direct involvement with Majeed and your key role in directing the corrupt activities, you are more culpable than either of your two bowlers. I consider that you were responsible for involving Amir in the corruption... [and you] abused your position as captain and leader in doing so."
One year and one year, to run concurrently
Judge's remarks "There is no evidence of any prior involvement in such activities but it is clear that Majeed had every confidence in you playing your part when identifying the no-ball that you would bowl. It is hard to see how this could be an isolated occurrence for you. These crimes of which you have been convicted require that a sentence be imposed... as deterrent for future cricketers who may be tempted."
Six months and six months, to run concurrently
Judge's remarks "You bear less responsibility than your captain... but you agreed to do this for money and £1,500 of NOTW marked money was found in your possession. These crimes of which you have been convicted require that a sentence be imposed which marks them for what they are and acts as a deterrent for any future cricketers who may be tempted."