1st – 15th May 2015
“Absence diminishes commonplace passions and increases great ones, as the
Wind extinguishes candles and kindles fires.”
( Du de la Rochefoucauld )
How true this is.
Psychology ( Category A )
Here is some interesting figures – The Inspector of Prisons’ Report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Wakefield between 30th June – 11 July 2014 states:
“4.26 [ … ] From January to June 2014 eight prisoners had been downgraded
From [ Category ] A to [Category ] B [ … ]”
However, in contradiction to this, one of the prisoners here submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and received these figures ( which I believe to be for either 2012 or 2013 ):
A. Number of Category A prisoners.
B. Number recommended for downgrade.
C. Number approved for downgrade by the Category A Review Team ( CART )
A B C
HMP Long Lartin 134 45 31
HMP Whitemoor 160 18 11
HMP Full Sutton 180 11 7
HMP Frankland 241 7 5
HMP Wakefield 143 5 3
Clearly, the last prison I would want to be in as a Cat. A. is HMP Wakefield. I really have zero prospect of being released. I would suggest that this disparity between HMP Wakefield and Long Lartin is almost solely down to the psychology department. Why let go of such ‘ fascinating ‘ subjects for their trainees to practice on when all they have to do is to submit a Cat A report which ensures the prisoner remains Cat A.
See my 18th – 31st March 2015 blog for my last application – this was the response
( after waiting about 6 weeks ):
“[ … ]
5. In my professional opinion, issues relating to your relationships with officers since you have been transferred to HMP Wakefield ( discussed in your last report ) remain relevant when considering your level of risk. This risk is related to the potential for goal orientated behaviour. While the report focuses on the last 12 months, other information will be included if this is important for the Category A review team.
[ … ]
7. Goal orientated behaviour means that someone has behaved in a way to get an outcome that is favourable to them. Sources of information are referenced within your Category A reports. We cannot be fully sure what this means in terms of your risk at the this point, this is something that will be continued to be explored during your engagement with the Psychology department.
[ … ]”
I do wonder quite what you make of this particular thread of my blog. Are you thinking, “ yes, yes, this trainee psychologist has written a really incisive piece of work” or, like me, do you think, “uh?”
Let me take you back to the original comment this trainee made in her Cat. A report on me:
“ Conclusions and Recommendations
[ … ] concerns highlighted in Mr Coutts’ previous Category A review about his
identified risk to staff [ … ] should be taken into consideration when assessing
Mr Coutts’ level of risk [ … ]”
This unequivocal statement to the Category A Review Team turns out to be built from a house of cards. She has continually failed to provide any examples or evidence of this “risk” or of her claim of “ issues relating to your relationships with officers;” and this ‘risk’ turns out to be more than her (questionable) opinion of a “potential” [ my emphasis] for goal orientated behaviour “ of which she is not even “ fully sure what this means in terms of your risk”. Yet, she has still made the unequivocal statement of “ identified risk to staff” and its importance when assessing level of risk.
This at best … misleading the CART and at worst a malicious attempt to keep me a Cat A. Along with many others, I am nothing more than a rat in a maze with no way out. However, the positive is that she has dug a hole for herself and her supervising psychologist. This particular battle continues…
Every prisoner is allocated an Offender Supervisor (OS), whose job is to complete a yearly sentence plan and OASys ( more of this in a future blog). I’ve just been allocated my 4th (or is it my 5th) OS in 3 years. They’ve been having serious problems keeping up with the work ( perhaps yjey should go on a time management course ).
Despite their importance in this process, I rarely see them. In fact, my yearly OASys document is about 2 years late and not due to get done until later on this year. This is a system which is clearly not fit for purpose.
After 26 days I finally got a reply to my application ( so much for the supposed 7 day response period ). Apparently, Security were waiting for a governor to email them back with an answer. I requested;
“[ … ] I would be grateful if you could highlight ( using a highlighter ) which
word/s are derogatory on the attached blog and return to me so I can amend.
Please also explain why the word/s are not compliant with PSI 40/201 [ … ].”
Security replied with:
“[ … ] I have read your jottings and agree with the correspondence team
regarding the ‘derogatory’ comments made by your self which you have asked
Any breaches on the protection of the reputation or rights of others need to
be considered [ sic ] in all areas. It is clear from your notes that you have
failed to do this in more than a few lines. It [is] your responsibility to ensure
that what is written is accurate and doesn’t impact on the reputation of others
as such I advise that you consider what you write and the impact that it may
have on the protection or the rights of others.”
Well, not only did they not highlight these ‘lines’ they also did not explain why they were not compliant with PSI 40/2011 (the PSI which governs prisoner communications ).
Ask yourself why they did not do this. Because there is nothing contained in my blog which is ‘derogatory’ or, to my knowledge, ‘inaccurate’ ( no names are mentioned ) and nothing which breaches PSI 49/2011. Clearly, this is an attempt to supress information which reflects negatively and is embarrassing to the Security department. Under European and British law, their decision to do so is an abuse of power and thereby unlawful.
The irony of the Security department quoting part of Article 10 ( Freedom of Expression ) is not lost on me. The ‘protection of the reputation or the rights of others’ and ensuring accuracy? They should ask themselves if this is what they do, because this is not my experience.
This issue has now legally moved forward. My solicitor wrote a 5 page letter to the prison raising several points and requesting information and justification for Security’s actions. Here’s the highlights:
[ … ] We are still unsure what security concerns the prison has in relation to Mr Coutts being a mentor in education [… ] There has been no explanation as to any wrong doing on our client’s part and conflicting responses from various different of staff in the prison. [ … ]
In 2014 [ … ] Mr Coutts submitted and [ … ] application to be considered once again for a mentoring position. Mr Coutts was advised that the education department would approve this application, yet, there was still a block on progress of this application. There was some indication at this time, that security were relying upon some information from HMP Frankland as a way to exclude him from this role, despite the fact that the prison were fully aware of this matter before he began the role initially [ … ] we submit that the prison are dealing with this matter inconsistently and indeed, there is no evidence on which to base this change in decision. [ … ]
We submit that our client is being victimised by the prison and not treated fairly when it comes to education [ … ] we invite the prison to prove any wrong doing on our client’s behalf [ … ]
In further contradiction [ … ] his Offender Supervisor [… ] advised that his current risk level was Medium, however, that this should be Low. It certainly was not flagged up as being High: again another inconsistency.
We further invite the prison to explain in detail:
Why Mr Coutts is considered to be a high risk to female members of staff?
How this assessment was made?
Why is it not reflected in CNOMIS?
Why did a note relating to English result in this risk being escalated to to high?
What authority the prison has to stop Mr Coutts accessing education and progressing as he has been free to do in the past?
What concerns there is with his interaction with education staff?
Further evidence that the prison are failing Mr Coutts and making poor decisions in relation to his position in education and as an education mentor can be found in his recent sentence planning report. Indeed, there is no security concerns indicated in this report [ … ]
Despite there being no security concerns, Mr Coutts continues to have problems with the prison in accessing certain things [ … ] he was not cleared for a family day [ … ] and in relation to accessing the Scrabble Club. We must urge the prison to provide an explanation as to why their application of restrictions is inconsistent and not backed with evidence [ … ]
[ … ] we [ … ] seek for the prison to provide an explanation for their decision over the past couple of years. We also seek for these decisions to be changed and for Mr Coutts to be allowed to continue in his mentoring role as to date, the prison has failed to provide any evidence to back up their ludicrous decision [ … ].”
I predict, as is their wont, they will not answer this letter or, if they do, not answer any of the above questions in any satisfactory manner. This, of course, will just drain further public money as my Solicitor will have to write another letter.
There is no doubt that the Security department ( or someone in that department ) has been targeting me for the past 2 years. I suggest that this some sort of payback for my legitimate and legal challenges to HMP Frankland’s Security department and staff. It is all to predictable in these places that if you challenge these people they will ensure that you do not progress and ultimately spend many more years in prison. So why do I do it? I will never yield to bullies and will always challenge injustice no matter what the personal cost.
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face –
( George Orwell )
Well, my salad days are long gone anyway – so keep stamping, your foot will get tired before my face does.
Interestingly, and in further contradictions to Security’s bizarre position on this. I have just started a one morning per week Education course, which is due to last for the next 8-10 weeks. The gender of the teacher? Female. So which department cleared me to go into this class? Yes, you guessed it – Security. So much for all their protestations and allegations.
Unusually, I got a timeous reply from Security to not one but two applications:
“Including myself, 3 prisoners were put forward to play music at the 23rd April
family day. I was the only one that you refused to clear for this event.
As I have plated on around 6 previous family days, including the last adult one,
with no issue ( my behaviour has been above reproach ), what possible security
reasons do you have for refusing to allow me to play some music at this event?
And, was this the same reason why you refused to allow me to play at the
Christmas family day?”
“ Due to staffing it would have been difficult for you to attend, the other 2
prisoners were already attending the full day.”
My next application:
“[ … ] I am a little confused. When I have played at the family day in the
past I go down at the same time as the other prisoners and just wait in the
holding room until they want to set up and play. Why would staffing issues
affect this previously successful arrangements.
You also have not explained why Security refused to allow me to play at the
Christmas family day, particularly as Officer [… ] had confirmed to me that
I was cleared to play. I would be grateful for an explanation.
“ I can not comment on previous arrangements. I would not be willing for a
Cat A prisoner to be held in an area he has no requirement to be in.
I can not answer you question on Christmas family day as I do not know
who refused your request.”
This is a weird answer. If Security clear me, or any other prisoner, to attend the Family Day, regardless of whether they are on a visit or in a support capacity, they are held in the holding room until it’s time to go into the visits area. That’s how it’s been every time I’ve played at previous Family Days. So what is Security’s agenda here? Are they frightened that I might run amok singing the greatest hits of Gary Barlow
( sorry Take That fans )
Clearly, they have made yet another arbitrary, inconsistent and irrational decision, and failed to provide any justification. What on earth goes on in that department?
Hurrah! Finally, I got on the Scrabble Club. I played terribly. I was playing a guy who I know will put down words that don’t exist. Six times I challenged him, six times I got it wrong! Duh!
At least this is one security I can finally draw a line under.
Be happy, be safe, see you next time.
Graham Coutts, 20th May 2015