November 2015 1st – 15th

1st – 15th November 2015

“If a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury
To animals.”
(Leo Tolstoy)

Some time ago I did a presentation, using Powerpoint, on vegetarianism. This was part of a course I did when I was on Education here. Having been vegetarian for about 20 years during my adult life, I thought I knew a lot about the subject. However, from doing the research, with the assistance of a marginally amusing but perspicacious friend, I discovered much more.

In terms of health: vegetarians have lower rates of heart disease (although, that hasn’t stopped my own heart problems, but then again, I did used to eat meat for most of my early life), cancers, type 2 diabetes, renal disease and Alzheimer’s disease. They also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. As a result, vegetarians live longer healthier lives. As do plant-eating animals, such as tortoises, elephants and horses. Whereas, lions, tigers and wolves’ life spans are considerably shorter.

You do not want to know about all of the bacteria and contamination that is inherent in meat products. This is all prevalent in industrial-scale animal farming methods. Salmonella, E. Coli, BSE, as well as mercury in fish, dioxin concentrations, growth hormones and antibiotics; mm, tasty

Did you also know that Carl Lewis (nine-time Olympic gold medallist) was a vegan?
He is quoted as saying that his best year of track competition was the first year he ate a vegan diet. Roman gladiators were also fed a vegan diet. I came across loads of elite sports people who also advocate non-animal diets; including bodybuilders. So much for the argument that you need meat to build muscle and be strong. Just think about gorillas, rhinos and elephants.

More of this next time…

Music Files

I’ve now written to the GLD (Government Legal Department) with some requests, so that I can view and access the rest of my midi/audio tracks. The MoJ could sort this out really easily with no further cost to the public purse. Will they? Let’s see. They have until the 11th April 2016 directions hearing.

Education Judicial Review

More positive news. The legal aid funding has been upgraded to full representation. This would only happen if the Legal Aid Agency has assessed this case as strong. I also had a positive meeting with my solicitor. Facts and grounds have been drafted; JR application will be submitted after my approval. It’s been a long road…

MoJ: Data Protection Act (redaction)

Good and troubling news: the ICO’s ‘investigation’ has consisted of writing a letter to the MoJ. Whilst they conclude that “the MoJ has breached the DPA,” they go on to say;

“It would appear that the MoJ have now provided you with copies of the personal
data you are entitled to receive … taking into account all the circumstances we
Do not consider that further action is required at the moment.”

No, no, no. I’ve written a letter seeking a case review. I make the submission that these paltry concessions by the MoJ are just an appeasement to manipulate the ICO into concluding their investigation. This problem is systemic and there is much more of my personal data which they are unlawfully not disclosing.

Blog Problems

I last wrote about this in my 15th – 31st July 2015 blog. Just to add a final note: despite my applications, the Head of Corruption did not come back to see me again; so no explanations regarding the source of his ‘information’. It couldn’t have been very reliable (which I already knew).

Security (ICO number)

After asking me to do their job for them and “write to the ICO to obtain their consent to you contacting them, “I submitted a complaint. The reply:

“I have contacted ICO who have advised that for a direct line telephone number
You must write to them to be allocated a case officer. The telephone you
Supplied is to an automated system and as such cannot be cleared.”

Hogwash. Most courts operate automated systems but they are all cleared. My appeal:

“Firstly, [officer] has significantly altered the reasons [officer] gave me for
Rejecting my application:

“…does not fit the criteria for legal numbers.” (PIN app 06/09)
“…not family or friends …” (PIN app 25/09)
“…you need to write to the IOCO [sic] to obtain their consent …”
(App 06/10)

Now [officer] is claiming that I need a direct dial number and a case officer
For me to contact the ICO because the helpline is an automated system. In no
PSI that I am aware of does it stipulate that to contact an official body you
require a case officer and direct dial number. In fact, all the courts use
Automated systems and their numbers are all cleared….”

I go on to ask for the PSI which allows them to do this and point that they may be in breach of UK legislation and Article 6: Right to a fair trial. They reply that they are “satisfied” that the officers’ responses are “appropriate” and, as the ICO do not come under legal privileges rules, it has to be cleared as a domestic number. However, s.39 of PSI 24/2012 requires that the identity of the recipient be confirmed and they are willing to receive phone calls. So their position is that as I have no named recipient (it’s a helpline) they cannot clear this number. Do you think that maybe they just don’t want me to have access to the ICO? This is a job for the Prison ad Probation Ombudsman.

Sex Offenders’ Treatment Programme (SOTP) Part VI

So, my 3rd application to the SOTP lead:

“… As I understand it, these are your 3 objections to recording my
Meetings/assessments:

Objection 1

“Counterproductive to employ recordings in the way that occurs in
Police interviews etc.”

Firstly, I never suggested that you follow the rigorous protocols adopted by the police when they record their interviews. However, I am suggesting that you video or audio record my meetings/assessments by simply pressing the record button. All you then have to do is send my solicitor a copy. Simple.

Secondly, it would be counterproductive. The problem is this:

I do not trust you or any of Wakefield’s psychology department to conduct
themselves in an ethical manner.

This evidence is based on sound evidence. So, how do we work together to solve this problem? My 2 suggestions are:

1. Allow me to take my own as I see fit; or,
2. Record the meetings/assessments and send a copy to my solicitor.

Recording the meetings/assessments would most certainly not be counterproductive. In fact, it would begin to establish a foundation of trust which we could develop and move on from.

Objection 2

“logistically prohibitive”

You already have video recording facilities set up in several of the rooms in your department. Alternatively, a simple cassette recording could be made. There are no logistical issues.

Objection 3

“costs involved would be unreasonable and disproportionate to any
perceived benefits.”

I never suggested that the costs should be borne by yourselves. Costs of the video or cassette tape recording and postage will be met by my solicitors. As for the benefits – see the last paragraph to “objection 2”. There are no cost or benefit issues …

You have already refused to allow me to take my own notes and you are refusing to record the meetings/assessments. It is apparent that no matter what reasonable solution I suggest, to this issue of trust, you manufacture a whole series of new objections … is your conduct assisting in solving this issue or is it validating my opinion of you and your colleagues? If you have nothing to hide (as I do not) why so afraid of notes and recordings?

I go on to give her prior warning of my intention to make a ‘fitness to practise concern’ to the HCPC should this issue not be resolved; and should they not complete a SARN TNA or finish off the Phase 111 SOTP assessment.

The reply:

“ It is important for me to discuss this situation with you. I will therefore make
an appointment to see you, with … Director of Psychological Services, and
will contact you with a date.”

Another failure to get a straight answer in writing; and they wonder why Idon’t trust them. I’ll tell you about the rather revealing meeting next time.

Category A Local Area Panel Board (LAP)

I got the reply back from the member of the Offender Management Unit who I was told, by the psychologist who sat on my LAP, submitted 3 of the untrue pieces of information to the board. They complain that it is “not fair to say that all the points you have raised were solely by myself.” Not fair? They should walk in my shoes for a day.

Sentence Plan

Every year you are meant to get a sentence plan. My experience as a wrongfully convicted Cat A, lifer is that it is a con that has had me running round in circles for 12 years. You get targets, you complete them, and nothing changes. Year after year; not even the targets.

However, you are given just enough hope to keep you engaging with the process. You occasionally see prisoners being downgraded from Cat A to Cat B or being transferred to a lower security prison. They have to give you hope. Imagine a prison where there is no hope, how dangerous would that be; for all concerned.

So I’m on to my 4th offender supervisor (OS) in 46 months. Normally it’s just me and the OS, but this time my personal officer wanted to get involved. This is my … I’m not sure … at least 6th personal officer in 46th months. For once I’ve got one who wants to be pro-active.

I pointed out that these targets are doing nothing to assist me in progressing and have me running round in circles (see my blogs on SOTP). My personal officer (and my OS) could see this. I told them that I had been waiting 3 months for a meeting with the Head of Psychology (although, to be accurate, they had come to see me but I was in hospital; but that was 9 ½ weeks ago). So, in an unprecedented move, my personal officer took it upon himself to go down to Psychology and facilitate this meeting. Finally, someone willing to get involved and make things happen.

More about that Psychology meeting in a future instalment.

Offender Assessment System (OASys)

This goes hand in hand with the sentence plan process. It’s a computer based system which, using the latest research and algorithmic software, calculates a prisoners level of risk based on a swathe of historic and current information about all sort of things. I’m sure it was rolled out to a fanfare at the time; but now it’s turned into this cumbersome piece of software which no longer gets done on time. Again, it’s meant to get done every 12 months; I’ve had 1 done in this prison in 46 months; so, now 2 years overdue.

Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) Scheme

For once, a review which does get done yearly. In fact, I’ve had several since I arrived. To remain an Enhanced prisoner you have to meet certain criteria to do with behaviour, engagement with Psychology, and generally being helpful to staff and prisoners, e.g. being a wing rep for something, or a mentor.

I had my review at my sentence plan meeting. No issues. Still Enhanced. What does that tell you about some of the … ahem… negative file entries which have been made on me?

Atrial Fibrillation

I saw the cardiologist regarding my recent ‘crazy heart’. I’ve been feeling pretty awful since it happened: fatigued; breathlessness; and woozy. What’s the solution? More medication! Still, given the alternative, maybe it’s the lesser of 2 evils.

He offered to book me in for an operation called an ’ ablation’. It sounds terribly medieval. They insert a wire into your artery and push it into your heart chamber. That’s where one of the nodes which regulates your heart beat is found. Then it gets worse … I know! They destroy the node by burning it! … what a ludicrous suggestion to make; and it takes about 4 hours, and is really painful. Mmm… shall I? Absolutely, no chance! Where’s the medication?

Kitchen meeting

We had our 2nd kitchen meeting. At HMP Full Sutton they offer an opt-out scheme where the prisoners can order a week’s worth of ingredients instead of getting their meals from the servery. I proposed a similar idea but for the extras they put on. Things like fruit, biscuits and crisps. It would operate on a point system, with each item having the relevant point value. Then you can spend your week’s points on whichever your items you want. So if someone wanted just crisps, they can. Conversely, if someone wanted just healthy ingredients, they can. It could also mean that the kitchen could offer a far more diverse range f products, regardless of individual cost. If someone wanted to spend their points on 2 items , they can and it wouldn’t cost the kitchen anymore out of their budget. It’s a win-win.

All the other reps loved the idea and the catering manager felt that it “had legs”. The only dissenting voice was the other kitchen officer who was their. He was negative before I even went through the idea and presented the benefits for the prison, as well as for the prisoners (and consequently, for society). Fingers- crossed.

Multi-media arts project

There was a positive staff meeting about this idea. I’ve now got to put together some information on the plot and all of the song lyrics. Gosh… there are 27 songs! It’s going to take some ruthless editing to fit the rock opera into 1hour of performance time. I hope they get some of the darker themes of this work. You need the darkness for light to exist… or maybe just a light bulb.

Improvement Through Music

We had our end of course concert. The set included: War; Back to Black; Ain’t no Pleasing You (yes, Chas’n’Dave); When You Were Young (my choice); some others and one of my originals Baby Blue. We had some T-shirts printed with our band name, ‘Ultra Vires’ (very apt).

Despite having an awful morning rehearsal and equipment problems, it went really well. I was told recently that I tend to over think things. Maybe they are right, as I was a little distracted with other thoughts. So much so that I forgot an entire verse and chorus of my own song and subsequently sang the ‘sha-na-na’ part in the wrong key… how embarrassing!

When I sang the Jamiroquai number I went on a little tour of the audience, messing with someone’s hair and draping myself over 2 guys. Apparently, this caused much hilarity from certain quarters (as it was meant to). It does make me feel good to make people laugh; even if I have to make myself look a little ridiculous.

Be happy, be safe, see you next time.

Graham Coutts, 18yh November 2015

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