Category A (Psychology)
# 3. Smoking
I have previously voiced my opinion on smoking; there’s no need to go into the reasons for the purpose of this blog. At that time, I was located about 50 cells down the end of the landing; it is a long landing. The landing officers are stationed at the other end and are meant to make regular patrols. As this was not happening I ended up with a group of guys smoking outside my door; at that time, they were actually only allowed to smoke in their cells. This was playing havoc with my asthma.
I submitted an application to a wing SO requesting that his staff make the patrols they were meant to be doing (instead of sitting on their behinds drinking coffee all day). In the interests of balance: some officers do take their job seriously but a few of them bothered to walk the length of the landing. I raised the issue with my asthma and the potential for me to go into an asthma attack (which could lead to a potentially life-threatening situation).
When he replied, he offered me a move to another wing; not something I had requested and not addressing the issue of officers not doing a landing patrol. When we spoke, I told him that I didn’t want a wing move; I didn’t even want a cell move; just stop these guys smoking outside my door.
You may as well ask why I didn’t ask them to move on myself. Well, my experience of these places tells me that this would undoubtedly lead to conflict and bad feeling, and a potential violent situation; I don’t think this would be helpful for any future parole. Incidentally, even if you are attacked and have to defend yourself using reasonable force, you will still be placed on report for fighting, found guilty (in their kangaroo court), and face several weeks on basic; with all the losses that entails (association, TV, wages, etc.).
This was the C-Nomis entry:
“Graham requested by application a move off B3 landing to a non [sic] smoking landing. Being a Category A prisoner this has to be accommodated on the B2 landing. Unfortunately there are no vacancies on B2 landing so Graham has been offered a place on Awing as a wing move. Graham asked if he could think about it (stated that he does a load of working out and did not want to disturb anyone below him on A wing. He would be in the same predicament if he moved onto B2 landing). Graham has not yet decided if he wants a move. This may be [sic] a manipulation for a landing
change as opposed to a health issue due to his current stance.”
“…manipulation…” Boy, they love bandying around that word. So, despite telling him that I did not want to be moved from my cell I was, somehow, manipulating him for the opposite. Oh, my word. What goes on in these people’s heads?
Unprecedentedly, this was resolved with the minimum of fuss. I saw the SO, pointed out that I had not requested a cell move in either my application or in our conversation, and that if I had wanted a landing move I would have requested this in my application. He accepted that his initial opinion was incorrect and made a further C-Nomis entry to that end. I’ve not got the entry as he read it out to me at the time.
Now, why don’t all staff adopt this approach? We all get it wrong sometimes but a reasonable and decent human being will seek to rectify their error instead of entrenching their position and refusing to accept their fallibility.
Be happy, be safe.
Graham Coutts, 3rd November 2017