Hello friend,

Al the way back to September last year, the power adaptor to my little DAB radio broke. You might think it would be a simple issue to get sorted out. Order a replacement adaptor, right? Not remotely right.

After being told I could order a multi-function adaptor from Argos (an approved supplier) and then having the order form returned to me: “not allowed”, I submitted a complaint. The reasons given for not being allowed to purchase a replacement adaptor:

“…1. They are not on the facilities list [this is a list of items prisoners can purchase]
2. They can be adapted and used as chargers [for mobile phones]…”

My appeal:
“…It may not be on the facilities list as a separate item but we are allowed them in possession [to power, for example, DAB radios, keyboards and shavers]; reception must have authorised hundreds of these power adaptors to come into the prison over the years. Given this, it may well be possible to adapt them into chargers but how many times has this happened out of the hundreds [and probably thousands] that have come into this prisons?…”

They replied and told me that it would acceptable for me to obtain a replacement adaptor from the manufacturer of the radio. Hang on… what about not being allowed an adaptor because it’s not on the facilities list and that it could be modified into a mobile phone charger? Yet another example of the bureaucratic and paranoid nightmare of this prison. I did write to the manufacturer but received no reply; I took my complaint to the Prisons and Ombudsman (PPO). Eight months later…

Despite making the point that I was being forced to spend over a month’s wages (£60+) having to buy a new radio just to obtain a functional power adaptor, the PPO did not uphold my complaint. I know! It’s crazy! Putting to one side the PPO’s now predictable misunderstanding of my complaint, the reason they did not uphold it was purely because some unknown member of staff claimed that all power adaptors available through approved suppliers were a security issue. Really? One approved supplier is Amazon. Are they really claiming that there is not an identical 12v adaptor on Amazon which I could buy? Are the PPO really that naïve, or is this yet another one of their surface level investigations to reduce their backlog? If that is denied, why did they just accept the prison’s position at face value without coming back to me or finding out who the approved suppliers were (they didn’t know Amazon were one, after I spoke to them).

So now I have to provide the PPO with proof that Amazon stocks an identical adaptor. Yes, they’ve got me doing their job for them. Meanwhile, I’m coming up to 12 months without being able to listen to my radio; it’s such a small pleasure…

Be happy, be safe. Graham Coutts, 21st August 2017

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