16th – 31st October 2015
Following on from my little rant last month about conformity …
“Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream.”
That is in the case of fish quite literal but purely a metaphor for people who conform (just in case anyone infers another meaning to that which I intended). In other words, people who don’t challenge convention or the current order. Automatons they risk nothing and gain nothing; even when they know they can gain everything. “What like?” I hear you say. Well … happiness for one. Are people who conform and go along with other people’s wants and needs ever truly happy? That’s a form of imprisonment. Of course, compromise and non-conformity can exist in isolation, but this is not always the case. However, conformity cannot exist without compromise; and if you compromise everything you live someone else’s life.
Think how your life may have turned out if you had been courageous enough to stand up for what you wanted (or who you wanted). Instead you’re left with those recurring thoughts of, “what if?” and a sense of disappointment in yourself. Console yourself in the fact that even ‘dead’ fish can be rescued from being lost at sea.
Well what d’you know. I had a meeting with the IT guy here. He had been sent 4
C Ds of my work from HMP Frankland. Wait a minute, before you get too carried away: most of the work consisted of either copies of my Koestler competition entries or lyrics and poetry. However, there was 1 CD which contained some Cubase files. Predictably, the laptop did not have Cubase software, so I could not check out if these MIDI files were complete and uncorrupted; plus the IT guy kept trying to hurry me up.
Noticeably, all of my audio files were missing. These files would normally be held in the Cubase project folder. Fortunately, whoever had transferred these files left a notepad message: “… could not copy any of the Obase project work as too big to fit onto a CD.” Well, well. Despite telling me that all my work had been deleted, all of my recordings appear to be alive and well. Now, why would they tell me something that was not true?
I asked for the relevant files to be copied onto CD. This included the later copy of Little by Little, and Hand of Shells; both of which HMP Frankland claimed to have sent to my family in 2011 (but didn’t). Hopefully, I should be able to post these songs in the not too distant future.
Unsurprisingly the MoJ do not agree to my amended particulars of claim. Next job; submit an application to the Court.
MoJ: Data Protection Act (redactions)
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating my second subject access request (SAR) but not my first. They say it’s too old. It’s only from 34 months ago; hardly ‘old’. I have written to appeal this and request that they obtain the unredacted data; to make an informed decision on whether or not the exemptions were lawfully applied.
Then I received a letter from the MoJ’s Data Access & Compliance Unit (DACU). After a second review, they have found more previously redacted data to disclose to me. Don’t forget they already conducted a review in February and disclosed some previously redacted data then. So they have found more … well, well.
So what was the data that they had previously redacted under s.29 (1) (a) the prevention or detection of crime.
“26/03/2013 has tip-ex in possession”
“Information of Special Importance
Violent Nature: No
Vulnerable Prisoner: No
History of Self Harm; No
History of Drugs: No
Risk to Children: No
PSO4400 Ch2: No”
Crimes? (Incidentally, I’ve never had tip-ex in my possession; I use correction tape – something they discovered when they sent 3 burly officers, from the Dedicated Search Team, dressed in their paramilitary outfit. I mean, c’mon! You’d think they’d have better things to do). So what other ‘crimes’ are they continuing to conceal from me with their unlawful redactions? This may take some time …
Sex Offenders’ Treatment Program (SOTP) Part V
Now we’re up to May through to August of last year: It came to my attention that Psychology were failing to follow the correct procedures in my case. The correct procedures are outlined in s.13-15, Annex D, PSI 30/2013; if the prisoner has been assessed as low risk, using the RM 2000, they should next have a SARN TNA (Treatment Needs Analysis) conducted. If the prisoner’s needs are assessed as low, they are not eligible for SOTP. “So why have they not conducted the SARN TNA?” My question exactly. Perhaps, they expect my treatment to be ‘low’ (the lowest category). That would shut the door on SOT permanently. Which would be unhelpful for a department whose budget relied on participants (or victims).
After submitting an application to the psychologist who supervised my Cat A report (see Health and Care Professions Council below) and a letter to my Solicitor detailing that I had been:
“… subject to unfair treatment and lies from prison staff and as such, protects him by taking notes. This is not unreasonable given the treatment he has had to endure …”
Both of which got our request for a SARN TNA refused and continued in the same vein regarding my note taking, I took issues to the lead SOTP psychologist. First application:
“[I have been] pointed in your direction as the SOTP lead for me to raise a ‘fitness to practice’ concern regarding your conduct in my case. This will cover 2 issues:
1. Your refusal to facilitate the completion of the SOPT assessment on the basis that you will not do so as long as I continue to take my own notes as I see fit.
2. Your refusal to follow the correct SOPT assessment provision, as set out in S.13-15, Annex D, PSI 30/2013. As you will be aware, I have been assessed as low risk using the RM2000. You will also be aware that you should have then conducted a SARN TNA. However, you failed to do this clearly a breach of PSI 30/2013 …”
To sum up the reply: we will only finish the SOPT assessment in writing, not face-to face with you; we won’t do a pre-treatment SARN TNA (no clear reasons given) The psychologist who replied to my solicitor claimed: “For those that have committed murder with a sexual element and are low risk on the RM2000 then the Core SOTP is deemed appropriate to their risk and need levels (without needing a clinical override from Intervention Services), “ They also claimed that they had “tried on numerous occasions to attempt to support [me] through this without negatively impacting on the quality of the assessment.” How patronising and untrue. Just read my previous blogs on psychology to see how ‘supportive’ they have been.
My next application:
“… I have been told a number of vague and confusing reasons why you do not want me to take my own notes during the Phase III SOTP assessment. However, it has been made clear by several AIC staff that you wish to support me and find a way in which I would be comfortable continuing with this assessment. My suggestion, which would deal with all of your objections about me taking notes, is for the assessment to be recorded, either on video or tape and a copy sent to my solicitor. Please indicate if this is acceptable. If not, please explain why not.
Incidentally, have you read the independent psychology report my solicitor sent to your department? SOPT is not recommended as a suitable ‘treatment pathway’.”
Pretty reasonable, right? Reply:
“… Individuals at HMP Wakefield have contact with staff within the AIC for the purposes of professional assessment and intervention. All of our meetings aim to assist men in their development of trusting professional therapeutic relationships
[Tell that to the trainee who did my Cat A report and the trainee who started the SOTP assessment] and their process of personal change [oh, the arrogance to presume that only they can bring about personal change. Firstly, I don’t need some stranger, just out of university, pontificating to me and using cult reprogramming methodology to bring about my personal change and development. Secondly, their methods do not work; just look at the recidivism figures. As soon as the prisoner steps outside of the offending behaviour program it all starts to unravel. Cult reprogramming methods only continue to work if the victim is totally immersed day and night in and around the cult. Think about what happens when a cult member leaves and experiences the real world. How many of them return? Anyway, I digress]. In this context we consider it counterproductive to employ recordings in the way it occurs in a police interviews etc. [maybe for the prisoner that has something to hide … or perhaps the psychologist who has something to hide?] Such a process would be logistically prohibitive given the frequency and duration of contact that our staff has with prisoners and the likely costs involved would be unreasonable and disproportionate to any perceived benefits
[I’m pretty certain I wasn’t suggesting recording every interview with every prisoner,
or that the costs should be borne by psychology.]”
It was my intention to post the 3rd application I submitted to counter their arguments but I’ll leave that until my next blog. It’s pretty good (unlike their response). Stay tuned.
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
I’ve now raised a ’fitness to practise Concern’, to the HPCP, against one of the psychologists here. This was the supervising psychologist of the trainee who wrote my last 2 Cat A reports (see my previous blogs). I submitted a 56 page bundle of evidence and 7 pages of representations. They’re assessing whether my concerns meets the their ’standard of acceptance’.
I have never gone down this avenue before, so I’ve no idea if my concern is strong enough for a full investigation; but it will be a really serious deal if they do.
Category A Local Area Panel Board (LAP)
I got a response from Security about their claims that there had been “ numerous IR’s [sic] submitted …” How simple would it have been to confirm this is correct or admit they screwed up? Oh no, too straight forward. They refuse to disclose anything either way and instruct me to make an SAR for my data; which would cost me £10 (60% of my week’s wages).
However, I got a more detailed reply back from the psychologist who attended my LAP; and who has never even met me.
“… in my opinion the minutes do not fully reflect the information that was
discussed … In order to further investigate how this has occurred, I met with the
Deputy Governor … We agree that the minutes need amending as a matter of
priority to fully reflect the information provided to the panel about your case …”
Sounds great, huh? Oh, no. None of the inaccurate claims and information was removed; all they’ve done is to add yet more garbage.
“… He met with members of the AIC team twice to further assess his readiness to
Attend the SOPT; he decided not to continue with the latter interview [untrue, see
Previous blogs]… Following a decision that Mr Coutts’ personality functioning
could be managed within mainstream treatment, attempts are currently being made
to support him to engage with the SOPT. A referral to specialist personality
Disorder services are not therefore being pursued at this time.
I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something here. I don’t have personality disorders. None. They have the independent psychologist’s report. Therefore, why are they bringing this false information to my LAP? Taken as a whole, the evidence appears to show that Psychology is attempting to manipulate this process in order to keep me as a Cat A prisoner. That then leads to the next question: what is motivating them to do this?
The psychologist also claims that the “initial information” was shared by “a member of the multidisciplinary panel.” I submitted another application to them. The initial information came from a member of staff from the Offender Management Unit (OMU); another one who had never even met me. In fact, out of 10 members of staff who sat on the LAP, only 1 of them had met me. This was a wing officer who was my Offender Supervisor (OS) for a short time. It is a little troubling that they did not question any of this information at the time.
As it was the Deputy Governor who chaired this LAP, I submitted an application to them highlighting the “erroneous and misleading information”; of which there 7 parts.
C-Nomis is one of the computerised data entry systems the prison service now use. If a member of staff wants to add something to a prisoner’s file about their day to day issues (usually neutral or negative, rarely positive), this is the system they use. Well, I was told there had been a positive entry (which would also be helpful to my Education Mentor judicial review). I asked management if I could have a print out of that entry. They refused.
NOM’s Information Access Representative Manual states:
“Business as usual … Requests only need to be dealt with under the SAR regime
where they are seeking extensive volumes of personal data and/or where it is
possible that certain information may need to be withheld from the requester
and the unit is unsure of what may or may not be legally removed …
IAR DO’S … Consider whether the request can be dealt as “business as usual”
rather than a SAR. The cost to MoJ/NOMS for each SAR is approximately
So, rather than print out a couple of lines of data of a positive nature, they want me to pay £10. If I have to pay 60% of my weeks’ wages I’m going to request a copy my full file; which will cost them about £500. Where is the sense in that? Not only is this disproportionate, it’s public money they are wasting. I wonder how many £500s could be saved by just meeting these small requests for data.
Yet another Future Wrongful Conviction
In my December 2014 blog I wrote about another prisoner who had been charged with assault in which he was not involved. Well, despite their determined effort to wrongly convict yet another innocent person, the CPS lost their case and a verdict of “not guilty” was returned.
It was pretty disgusting that he had even been charged; for simply being a Muslim who was nearby when it all happened. This young man, who came to prison when he was 17, is already a decade over tariff, is within sight of the finishing line in his prison journey. He has a chance to rebuild his life. Like me, he challenged prison injustices through the appropriate channels, so this reeks of ‘payback’. “You challenge our total authority and we’ll keep you in for as long as we want.” These places attract one certain type of human being as an employee.
Band night is going well. There are regularly 20+ guys who come down. We now buddy up to choose a song for the concert, which has reduced the number of songs. Now everyone’s choice will get performed. Finally, no more conflict. My co-choice is ‘The Real Me’ by The Who. What a song!
The Improvement Through Music rehearsals have been sometimes good, sometimes not so much. What certain members still do not grasp is that it takes a lot of hard and (sometimes) tedious work to become proficient at anything. You have to make sacrifices with your time. Life isn’t all about bars, beaches and boogieing. Then the excuses come out: “The problem is …” Yes, the problem is that you’re lazy, uncommitted and negative. It’s so draining at times.
One of my originals is sounding pretty good. Catchy. One of the officers was whistling it after rehearsals. Concert next month.
Be happy, be safe, see you next time.
Graham Coutts, 4th November 2015