ACategory A (Security)
# 5, letter of authority
This is a belter: one of my complaints to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) required me to obtain a letter of authority from my mother; so I could make a complaint on her behalf. Unfortunately, she sent me an unsigned letter of authority. After speaking to my mother on the phone, she sent me a replacement signed version. I sent that to IPSO.
One week later, the letter was returned to me, not mailed, stopped because it “looked like” I had forged my mother’s signature. Brilliant. Well done. A complaint was submitted. An appeal against the response to that complaint followed. I should also say that I posted the letter straight back in the box and it was mailed whilst these complaints were ongoing. Seemingly not a problem the 2nd time.
Unusually, Security actually investigated this. After listening to the phone calls and speaking with the Censors’ department they found out that the first unsigned authority was logged on my file as incoming mail but the 2nd signed version was not. So, when I sent out the signed version, Censors concluded that I had forged my mother’s signature. Security’s findings.
“It is reasonable to suggest that in that period between the initial letter and enclosure being received and the letter being stopped and returned to yourself, your mother has resent her letter. You have responded on her behalf with her authority and we haven’t made the connection in a more timely fashion.
It would appear that there has been a lack of communication between staff, and this has caused an unacceptable delay in you sending this letter.”
They go on to explain that, due to working patterns, some staff ended up in an area which was necessarily their own. The admission that this was their error all felt a little begrudging; an apology was noticeably absent.
Despite admitting their error, making the ‘forged signature’ allegation false, this is what Security included in their Cat A report as a “concerning behaviour”:
“23/03/16 = Signed a letter with his mother’s signature which gave him authority to complain on her behalf”.
Here we are again: Security submitting information to the CART which they know to be false. What does that tell you about this prison’s Security department? Well done, you should be very proud of yourselves.
Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 6th November 2017