16th – 30th September
“To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.”
(Bernadetette Devlin McKliskey)
That makes me think about love. Not the infatuation type; nor the several times in a lifetime; but the once only, never to be repeated type. The type of love that replaces pain and doubt with hope and joy. The type where you would give everything up to be with that person. The type where you know on the day you meet that you want to spend the rest of your life with that person and feel no fear of that prospect; only a sense of serenity. Think Tauriel and Kili, or Wall-E and…eh…Mrs Wall-E. Of course, this over-romanticised view only works if it is reciprocated. If not, they were never ‘the one’.
I received the MoJ’s defence. This time they are not contesting the fact that I have intellectual property ownership over the recordings. Well, they couldn’t really as they had used the discovery of 4 CD’s as the reason to get an extension to file their defence. However, I still have not received these CD’s months after they informed me of their existence. It rather gives the impression that they’ve hoodwinked the Court to get their extension. Even if the CD’s exist, they don’t contain the music files that have been destroyed.
One part of the defence is putting me to proof of their destruction. Ridiculous! HMP Frankland put it in writing that they had done this. How much more proof do they want?
I sent amended particulars of claim to the MOJ. It undermines their defence. For example, they claim:
“… The requirement to change clothing was [not] unreasonable … to balance the security risk to the public posed by the Claimant’s release in plain clothes against any risk to his health of changing into prison clothing …”
However, this is what happened for this month’s hospital visit:
“At no point was the ‘requirement’ to change into prison clothes even mentioned to the Claimant. In fact, he was transferred to hospital in his blue and pink tartan pyjama bottoms and his navy blue t-shirt.”
Thy also claim:
“…the treating clinicians, who at no time advised [the officers] that the Claimant’s condition merited his next of kin …”
Yet, this is what happened for this month’s hospital visit:
“… the Claimant asked the Governor […] if he would arrange for someone to contact his Mother to inform her that he was in hospital but was okay … the Claimant telephoned his Mother who told him that she had received a telephone call … and had been told that I was in hospital but was okay and not too worry.”
Even now, I cannot get my head around the conduct of the MOJ. How much more public money are they going to waste defending the undependable?
Education Judicial Review
A good piece of news. After initially rejecting my solicitor’s application for legal aid, and after our appeal, we have been granted legal aid. How ridiculous that I have to go to these lengths to do a job which benefits so many parties. Forward into battle.
Sex Offenders’ Treatment Programme (SOTP) Part 111
So, to the assessment. This was in October 2014 and doing the ‘assessment’ was an officer and trainee psychologist; yes, another trainee. Here are the best bits from my complaint:
“As I was recording the minutes to this meeting, I asked [the officer] for his last name. He refused … He told me he was uncomfortable giving me his name and notes being made on him …”
This guy was confrontational, rude and furtive; and clearly paranoid. All this achieved was to set an unpleasant tone for the meeting instead of building a ‘safe’ environment of trust. After a tense stand-off, I asked to be taken back to the wing and he capitulated with his last name. All rather unnecessary as his full name would be on the assessment paperwork.
“…They both continued in their attempt to pressurise me into not taking my own notes … [the officer said] he found it “rude” of me [and the trainee] spoke very quickly which … was undoubtedly an attempt to make it difficult for me to keep up …”
Rude”? People in glass houses … So why were they so intent on stopping me from taking my own notes? They replied with:
“… Writing everything down does impact on the time it takes to complete the assessment …”
My own perception, based on their conduct and demeanour, and 13 years of dealing with these people, is their strategies centre around control. I take my own notes and they lose some of that control; both in terms of the flow of the assessment and their ability to misquote or miscontextulise what I say in order to meet their diagnostic belief bias.
“…During the assessment [the trainee] exhibited the following behaviours … Smirking at some of my answers. At various times this came across as smug, sneering, condescending, and dismissive. This gave the appearance of arrogance … Sniggering at one of my answers. This was appalling behaviour which I immediately and appropriately challenged. This was unprofessional, inappropriate, and disrespectful to Jane Longhurst. The circumstances of her death are not a cause for levity … Asking me questions and then interrupting my answers
(Sometimes before I had even finished the first sentence)… And then accusing me of being evasive when I wanted to finish my answer to her original question before dealing with the next one …”
There was much more. I felt that the trainee was attempting to antagonise me and was not willing to explore anything that did not support her own preconceived bias. She clearly took a dislike to me after I said “you people”. It may have been her antipathy towards me or her comparative youth and inexperience that led to this disappointingly poor interview. No doubt this would have compromised her judgement and ability to produce an unbiased report. It became personal for her.
“… I have discussed the comments you made about [the trainee] smirking, laughing, and using innuendo with [the trainee and the officer] and have been assured that this was not behaviour adopted by [the trainee] during the assessment as this behaviour is not acceptable.”
Funny, it wasn’t denied by either of them at the time of my challenge.
“…It is the aim of the interviewer to keep responses to questions focussed; when the information required for a particular question has been obtained, you will be thanked for the information and directed to the next question…”
That would have been great, except that wasn’t what was happening. At times I was being cut off just a few words into my answer; a very poor technique.
As we had run out off time, another session was booked for me to attend. So I turned up with pad and pen ready for round 2. They made one final attempt to persuade me not to take notes; which I declined. In response, they refused to finish the assessment. Of course, they gave me what, on the face of it, appeared to be credible reasons. However, as we will see in Part 1V, it was all a smokescreen.
I submitted a complaint about the further damage to my hand from their handcuffs. I asked:
“1. After the initial blanket Cat A assessment, how long after are you required to do an individualised risk assessment?
2. Why had this individualised risk assessment not been completed within at least the first 24 hours?
3. For the second time your handcuffs have damaged my right hand – what do you propose to do about this?”
“There is not a “blanket” Cat A risk assessment completed, all prisoners including Cat A prisoners have an individual risk assessment completed after taking into consideration security and medical professional advice [sic]… Handcuffing arrangements are re-assessed if staff or a qualified healthcare professional raises concerns that the handcuffs are impairing medical treatment. Concerns were not raised by medical professionals, staff or Governors in relation to your handcuffing arrangements … PSI 09/2013 Management and Security of Category A Prisoners – External Movement. Section 5.6 states that, double cuffing is to be used for all Category A prisoners unless the security risk assessment or the clinical condition states otherwise.”
No acknowledgement of the injury they have caused to my hand. My appeal:
“This contradicts what I was told by SO[…], CM […], SO […] and Governor […]. There were concerns expressed to me by various members of my bed-watches about the handcuffing arrangements and I was told several times that it was being re-assessed. So who has been misleading me? You or 2 Sos, a CM and a Governor?
… It is your statutory duty to conduct an individualised risk assessment taking into account all known information (including the damage the handcuffs were causing to my right hand) and to provide adequate care for the management of the injuries and pain from this injury from the use of force that was necessary to restrain me.
Further, PSO 1600 ‘Use of Force’ states: “a prisoner with an arm or wrist injury may be prone to particular risk of further injury or pain if handcuffed; this might make the use of handcuffs unreasonable.” For the second time, your handcuffs have damaged my right hand – what do you propose to do about this?”
“… The first check was completed by Governor […] … ‘… no request has been received to reduce the cuffing arrangements … ‘… On the second check … Governor […] made the visit and stated ‘… He was fine with the exception of a sore wrist. A request has been made to review the restraints …’ … neither of them have any concerns with the arrangements on the escort … there is no comments made in the log that any medical staff at Pinderfields Hospital had any concerns with the handcuffs … At no point in the Ambulance or in the hospital has any Governor or medical professional stated that the handcuffs are causing any problem.”
So, no responsibility taken; just thrown all back at my feet (or should that be wrists?) I didn’t raise the injury to my hand with the first governor as I had been told it had already been raised with another Governor who was chasing up the re-risk assessment and supported the D cuffs coming off. He was, in fact, the second Governor who came in. I raised the numbness to my right hand with him and all he apparently wrote was “a sore wrist “? Well, both my wrists were sore but I only told him about the numbness and that this had happened 2 years previously.
I also find it a little hard to believe that none of the 2 Sos and CM made any comment about their concerns with the cuffing arrangements in the bed-watch log or, for that matter, that I had been examined by 2 doctors regarding the numbness; one even told me that it was damage to the radial nerve which was causing the problem.
We will see when I get specific disclosure in my civil case just how much of their replies are true.
Security (interference with the due administration of justice)
This was the evidence I had mailed to the Government Legal Department regarding my judicial review costs hearing. I met with the Governor who made it clear that this should not have been stopped, and it was faxed. I asked what provision Security applied to this stoppage which circumvents the due administration of justice and Article 6: right to a fair trial. They replied with:
“… It was not clear where exactly you were intending to send the letter and who the recipient of the letter was going to be …”
I am assuming that to be employed in Security you have to have basic reading skills. My appeal:
“… [My letter was] clearly addressed (as was the envelope) to [name of recipient] who is employed by the government Legal Department. As this department is the new name for the Treasury Solicitor, you will also note that it is the same Kemble Street address. In the body of the letter I quote the case number and name. The defendant is the Secretary of State for Justice. The text refers to the internal application and the upcoming costs hearing.”
Not clear enough? Their reply:
“… The letter was originally stopped as the address on the envelope was not recognised…”
“Not recognised?” C’mon.
Security (ICO number)
The PIN telephone system number request forms contain 2 categories of numbers: friends and family; and, confidential legal numbers. I applied to get the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) helpline number cleared and put it in the confidential section. My application was returned stating: “Under PSI 49/2011 the ICO does not fit the criteria for legal numbers.”
I resubmitted the application and put it in the friends and family section. My application was returned stating: “Not family or friends. Please resubmit.” How I laughed. Why not just clear the number; it’s going to happen anyway and I’m sure we’ve all got better things to do with our time.
Security (thank you)
After 48 hours in hospital, I wanted to submit a ‘thank a member of staff’ form for every one of the officers who were on my bed watch (about 13 of them). They all conducted themselves professionally and with humanity. I asked a wing SO if he could get the names of the officers. He spoke to Security and … can you guess what they said … they refused to disclose any of the names. Why not? Who knows for sure? So I have 13 forms which can’t be filled in. This just beats the above as the most ridiculous moment of the month. “Ooo, we can’t have prisoners thanking staff.”
I didn’t receive my veg pack a couple of weeks ago. I raised this with the kitchen; who claimed that they had put it on the trolleys. They then refused to send me a replacement saying that the pack was a “goodwill gesture.” Goodwill for what? Are the vegans some sort of faction in need of appeasement; marauding the landings with their ethics and pasty vegan faces, and trying to save the planet by not eating meat? “Oh, the humanity, we have to calm them with ½ a cabbage, an onion, a potato and a bit of swede.”
On that note, I’m the new wing kitchen rep. When one of the kitchen officers came up to tell me, I said, “are you sure you know what you’re letting your self in for.” He said he had specifically chosen me. That’s a little troubling as I had never met him before. Mmm?
Rehearsals continue for both the next concert and the Improvement Through Music concert. Band night has become really popular with about 20 guys coming down. We did a performance for the over-60’s and played one of my original numbers which is in the rock opera. I’m still working on that as an arts project. It is moving forward slowly. I’m hopeful that it will happen in one form or another.
Be happy, be safe, and see you next time.
Graham Coutts, 2nd October 2015