1st – 15th October 2015

1st – 15th October

“Every man is the creature of the age in which he lives; very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the times.”
(Voltaire)

The human need to conform. We all do it to one degree or another. Although, I like to think that I am still a non-conformist. I have always said that I am not just an anti-establishment; I am anti-anti establishment as well.

My particular niggles right now are hipster beards and tattoos. At least with a beard you can shave, but tattoos… I just don’t get it. Are you really so unsure about who you are and your place in the world that you have to resort to ‘expressing who you are’ by inking your body. It’s a bit like an X-Factor contestant saying: “I want to show the world I prove what I can do.” I’ve got news for you; the world doesn’t care. More importantly you shouldn’t care about what ‘the world’ or everyone thinks about you.
Your tattoos won’t look quite so pretty at 50, 60 and 70 years old. Anyway, it’s not cool or rock’n’roll; it’s passe.
Well after alienating hipsters, rockers, bikers, sailors, and Amy Winehouse wannabees…

Appeal

Just a short update. Things are still moving forward. We have been looking at securing a particular type of expert. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be one in this country, so are exploring a number of avenues in America.

Censored

I have had to remove this next section under instruction from Security. It was about a serious incident which happened on the landing above me. As I have come to expect, their instruction gave no reasons as to why they objected to this section or which part/s of S.11.3 of PSI 49/2011 I had breached.

Sex Offenders’ Treatment Progress (SOTP) Part IV.

So, the smokescreen. They told me that they would not continue the assessment as the note taking made it difficult for them to develop a rapport, allow the questions and answers to flow, and made the assessment longer. My initial thought was: “so what; it’s an assessment.”

I next met with another trainee psychologist who asked me to meet them halfway. “No.” She proposed that they would send the remaining questions to me, which I could then answer in writing. “No.” I wanted them to complete the assessment in the same way they do for every other prisoner; face to face.

I then found out that the trainee who conducted the assessment had told this other trainee that.

“…Mr Coutts decided not to continue with the [SOTP] assessment as he would insist on taking verbatim notes…”

I asked this trainee to explain why she had been given an untruthful account; she replied:

“…I can confirm that this was an accurate account … You were … advised that writing everything down verbatim was not conducive to the therapeutic running of the assessment, but making general notes was fine to do. The interview was started and later you declined to continue to engage stating that you wished to write every word down verbatim …”

“Therapeutic”? There is nothing therapeutic about this assessment. It’s a question and answer session. I made it clear to her that any decision not to continue would be theirs as I was willing to finish the assessment. I hope you can see how they operate. She’s turned their decision to halt the assessment into my decision. Very manipulative and troubling.

Part V next time.

Security (handcuffs)

Following on from last month’s claim by Security that “…Concerns were not raised by … staff or Governors in relation to your handcuffing arrangements …” I submitted some applications. Here are two of the replies:

“If you recall, the doctor examined you and you asked her about the handcuffs affecting your right hand. I spoke with the doctor and explained that she would need to make an official request if she thought the cuffs were affecting your medical treatment. The doctor said she would speak to the Consultant and get back to me. During the night the doctor or Consultant never returned. I made a note in the log so the day staff was aware of the situation.”

“…I did follow this matter up and to my knowledge the Head of Security was satisfied with all arrangements in place and there was nothing raised by any clinician to suggest the handcuffs was impairing any treatment.”

So, the first response was from a Custody Manager (CM) and the second a Governor; both acknowledge that they were aware that the handcuffs had made my right hand go numb (which I put to them in my application) and had raised this issue (the CM in the log and the Governor with the Head of Security). Whilst the handcuffing arrangements may not have affected my treatment, it remains the case that they were aware that they were causing damage to my right hand and did nothing to alleviate this problem; and then, of course, deny the staff or Governors had not raised this concern.

I feel like I need to add some final barbed comment about Security’s apparent lack of ethics, honesty and humanity, but else can I say that I haven’t said before?

Category A Local Area Board Panel Board (LAP)

When you get a Category A review the LAP, based in the prison you are at, make an initial review and recommendations. These go to the national Category A Review Team (CART), who make the final decision as to whether you will be downgraded to Category B or remain a Category, A prisoner.

I’ve just received the minutes from my LAP, held on the 19th June 2015. My comments are in square brackets.

“… A Category A prisoner is a prisoner whose escape would be highly dangerous to the public or the police or the security of the State and for whom the aim must be to make escape impossible. [My understanding is that the whole Cat A system was brought in to place members of the IRA on a higher level of security. It is an outdated system, and one which Scotland does not use.]

In deciding whether Category A is necessary, consideration may also need to be given to whether the stated aim of making escape impossible can be achieved for a particular prisoner in lower conditions of security, and the prisoner is categorised accordingly. However, this will only arise in exceptional circumstances since escape potential will normally affect the issue of categorisation as it is rarely possible to foresee all the circumstances in which an escape may occur. [Bear in mind that high security prisons don’t just house Cat A prisoners. Therefore, Cat A prisoner will have, pretty much, the same level of security in here. Which rather makes the category system redundant?]

[Then a question] Has the prisoner demonstrated evidence of a significant reduction in his risk of re-offending in a similar way if unlawfully at large?

Taking all the evidence into account, including responsibility for offending [I have been wrongfully convicted so I am unable to take responsibility for an offence which did not take place], insight and remorse [there has been numerous studies and reports which conclude that remorse is not a predictor of recidivism; therefore not connected to risk], progress on offending behaviour work [which I am unable to engage in due to my wrongful conviction] and current behaviour [no mention of the 7 pathways to rehabilitation], do you consider the prisoner still poses a serious risk of re-offending in a similar way if unlawfully at large I.e. with no supervisor or support [this question is not answered by the LAP]

[Another question] If your recommendation is that the prisoner should remain Category A.

Please give reasons for recommendation.
[Here we go]… Mr Coutts remains positive to meet his sentence plan target to complete SOTP [not only is this not a target (assessment only) I don’t remain positive about this]. He has previously completed both ETS and TSP but is unwilling to use these skills [Wha-at? Have they been reading someone else’s file? Not only did ETS and TSP teach me nothing of any value (it’s for kids) the type of skills they are referring to I use all the time; you cannot go through 13 years of prison demonstrating no aggression without being able to problem solve and perspective take (to name but two)]. He has been encouraged to start DSPD but he has no willingness to co-operate with AIC to engage with this [not only have I not been encouraged to start DSPD they have my psychologist’s report stating that I have no personality disorders; why on earth would I be willing to spend over 5 years in a unit containing prisoners with Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorders?] …he is polite and respectful to staff [gee, thanks … oh, here it comes …] however he does question whatever he feels is detrimental to himself [they just can’t help themselves] … There have been numerous IR’s submitted, some of which are due to his inappropriate comments and malicious accusations against staff [Whaaat! I’m unsure whether any of the above inaccuracies are due to incompetence or malice. I wonder, which department does this erroneous information originate … mmm … oh my, Psychology and Security. Tut, tut.] … The panel agreed that Mr Coutts has not yet demonstrated any significant reduction in risk. Therefore he should remain Category A [the meaningless mantra. Why? Because the area they claim would “demonstrate a reduction in risk” is “Undertake meaningful dialogue with AIC [Psychology] to reduce risk.” Not an area; and an avenue of rehabilitation which has failed since the early 90’s. Purely a box ticking exercise, and one which I cannot partake in due to being wrongfully convicted. So where does that leave me? T leaves me a Cat A and unable to progress through this sentence. In other words, unless they change their working model, I will never be released. Imagine how you would feel being convicted of something that never happened and then seeing rightly convicted being progressed and released.]

Stay tuned. I predict that this issue is going to run and run. Their use of erroneous information is unlawful, and I have a good case for Judicial review should I wish to pursue it.

Ministry of Justice (Data Protection Act – redactions)

I recently wrote to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) requesting that they investigate the MoJs use of redactions on my last 2 Data Protection Act (DPA) Subject Access Requests (SARs). For example, my security file is almost totally redacted.

I had previously written to the MoJ to find out what exemptions to disclosure they had applied. They had mainly used s.29 (1) (a) the prevention or detection of crime. This means that if they have processed any data on me which is to prevent or detect crime they do not have to disclose it to me. This was a little troubling as I have not been involved in any criminal or potentially criminal activity. This begs the question; why have the MoJ redacted data which should, under my legal entitlement, be disclosed to me? Just what are they trying to cover up? This is another issue which will be a long and drawn out battle.

Kitchen Rep Meeting

We had our first meeting; some interesting figures. The budget is £2 per prisoner per day. I’m not sure who sets the budgets; NOMS/MoJ or the No 1 Governor? A few ideas were proposed. I’m putting together a questionnaire about the vegan pack. It’s pretty good in some areas but too repetitive and impractical; and the nut and fruit allowance has been slowly reduced. We get dried chickpeas and black-eyed beans but the wing cooking facilities are poor, there are no freezers, and association time is limited (another reduction by stealth). Nonetheless, a positive step forward (I hope).

Interestingly, they do not know how much individual meals cost or the cost of food wastage (and there’s a lot). How can you manage an ever diminishing budget (£5,000 less this year) when you aren’t costing out your meals and wastage. Plus, they’ve no idea of the calorie or nutrient content of each meal.

They are also meant to provide 1 hot meal per day. Over 4 weeks there are 3 days I don’t get a hot meal. On one of those days I get a small packet of noodles (not a meal – a snack) for lunch and a salad for dinner.

Disappointing, when I got the minutes, none of my proposals were minuted. This was very disappointing.

Print Shop

When the Print Shop re-opened a few months ago, for reasons unknown, they down graded all the software. MS Office 2010 changed to MS Office 2007 and all the Adobe software was replaced with the charmingly named freeware package – GIMP. Even the dictionary wasn’t installed. I had to redo a massive amount of work on the Beginners’ Guitar Course booklet. We can’t even print directly any more; the instructor has to do it. My files kept crashing, and I had to re-save the booklet 14 times! Lots of other weird glitches. Great job Network Company! Just how much public money do they get?

Despite these issues I managed to finish the guitar booklet and other 100+ page booklet (English). The guitar booklet had to be printed via the network by the Braille Shop. It took 4 hours.

As they’ve been talking about running the Print Shop as a small business for the past year (but not) I’ve decided to give it a little push forward. The first step is to implement a weekly meeting to identify where we are at and where we want to go. It’s going okay; although, I feel not all of the team are on board yet. Time will tell.

Be happy, be safe, and see you next time.
Graham Coutts, 18th October 2015

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