1st – 15th August 2015

1 st – 15 Th August 2015

Hello Friend,

Knowing how much I am interested in language, grammar and punctuation (I know, these blogs aren’t perfect in that respect); someone tried to impress me with their knowledge of punctuation. This was the unpunctuated sentence:

A woman without her man is nothing

I had to add the punctuation. I knew they were looking for something less obvious than:

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

I think I went for:

A woman without, her man is nothing.

Uh! I know, I’ve no idea what that means either – I was trying to be enigmatic and poetic. This is what they wanted to see:

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

Of course! The colon! It is the only solution that holds an undeniable truth – on every conceivable level.

Educational Judicial Review

Bit of a body blow: the Legal Aid Agency (based in my former city – Brighton and Hove) has rejected our application for emergency legal aid. Their letter was really confusing. They referred to an enclosed letter of reasons, which wasn’t enclosed, and my solicitor received a letter dated 2 days later, not rejecting the application, but asking for further information. When we eventually got the ‘reasons’ they were equally confusing. We are appealing the decision.

By reducing the amount of legal aid, the Government has created a situation which allows their agents (including the Prison Service) to act with near impunity. They know that it will be difficult for a prisoner to access legal aid to challenge their decisions or actions. Is it just for a democratically elected government to use their powers to remove funding that allows their citizens to defend their civil rights? There is only one correct answer to that question.

Journals Judicial Review

“Hasn’t this matter being resolved?” Well, almost. There is still the question of my costs. So, I sent the Court some supporting evidence sealed under Rule 39 (which means it cannot be read by the prison). I sent the same evidence to the MOJ’s solicitor, unsealed. In their infinite wisdom, Security stopped that letter from being mailed and returned it to me for the following reason:

“Not permitted to send prison forms out. Also with staff members names on. These names
need omitting.”

Not only is this clear case of ‘interference with the due administration of justice’ and engages Article 6: Right to a fair trial, they’ve stopped urgent evidence from being served on their employer. Whilst this is yet another unlawful action taken by Security, they’ve actually helped my case. Thank you ‘

Category A Reports (Security)

Following on from my last blog – my complaint:

“In your latest Cat. A report you disclosed the following:

“19/11/14 – Submitted a complaint form which contained inappropriate comments and
malicious accusations towards staff.”

For the purpose of the Data Protection Act 1998, this is inaccurate data.

I submitted 2 applications to yourselves. In the second application (B1906), dated 10 Th July 2015, I requested the following:

“[…] regarding the claim that I had submitted a complaint form which contained
“Inappropriate comments and malicious accusations towards staff” this is untrue
and I would like to challenge the truthfulness of this SIR. Please advise what I nee
to do to get this entry deleted from my files, i.e. what evidence do you require?”

[…] replied 23 rd July 2015:

“[…] once an intelligence report has been submitted it cannot be deleted and will
Therefore remain on your file and in the Cat A report.”

Whilst I do not to speculate about […] reasons for making the above claim, the Data Protection Act 1998 provides for the following:

“(The fourth principle) Personal data shall be accurate […]

S. 40 (4) An enforcement notice in respect of a contravention of the fourth data
Principle, in the case of data which accurately record information received or
Obtained by the data controller from the data subject or a third party, may require
The data controller either–

(a) To rectify, block, erase or destroy any inaccurate data and any other
data held by him and containing an expression of opinion [,,,]”

Your own PSI 44/2014 The Data protection Act 1998 provides for the following:

“5.10 […] individuals whose personal data we are processing can contest its
Accuracy and require us to amend or correct it if it is found to be inaccurate. If
It cannot be clearly proven that the data is inaccurate we are obliged under the
DPA to note on the record that the information in question is in dispute.”

It is quite clear from the above legislation that you cannot process inaccurate data. Further, you have a legal duty to rectify, block, erase or destroy any inaccurate data. Therefore, unless you have incontrovertible evidence to support this SIR you are acting unlawfully.”

Security’s reply:

“… Any information that is contained within any of your reports from Security is
deemed accurate and therefore will remain and will also remain on your security

Interesting. What they appear to be saying is that, regardless of their legal obligations, they will not rectify, block, erase or destroy any data I prove to be inaccurate. Why? For no other reason than they deem it to be accurate… They conclude this without having ever spoken to me about these matters, having conducted no investigation and never having sought my representations. It hardly seems to be a proper way to ascertain the truth. Unless, of course, they are not trying to ascertain the truth.

I know of several entries on my security file which are untrue and I can prove it. Yet, despite this, it will be futile to do so as clearly facts and truth are not of interest to them. Ask yourself “why?” Imagine this – I prove 90% of my security file to be inaccurate/ untrue; what an embarrassment that would be for them. Therefore, you have to question the limited value of their work. It’s a bit like conducting a bombing raid in the Middle East but your Intel being vague. If you bomb an entire town you may hit your target but with massive collateral damage. Now think about the thousands of other prisoners that this undoubtedly happens to and the effect it has on their progression, and, by extension, their families.

Independent Monitoring Board (IMB)

I’ve been wanting to blog about my most recent experience with the IMB but the constraints on space and time kept relegating it in favour of other items. So, finally, here we go.

The IMB is an organisation made up of volunteers who … you guessed it … independently monitors how prisons are run. They claim to “monitor fairness and respect for people in custody.” My experience is somewhat different and theirs is somewhat indifferent.

After hitting dead ends and being stonewalled regarding losing my job as an Education Mentor. I applied to meet with them. This is the chronology:

12/05/14: 1st application regarding my job as an Education Mentor (and also at that time my risk assessment, which was later resolved, but not by the IMB).

20/05/14: One of their members met with me to discuss these issues. He told me he would come back and see me in 3 weeks. He did not return.

20/08/14: I submitted a 2nd application, and … received no reply.

20/09/14: I submitted a 3rd application.

29/09/14: The IMB member met with me again, but his investigation appeared to be no further forward. He told me that he would come back in 2/3 days. I never saw him again.

11/10/14: I submitted a 4th application, and … received no reply (are you seeing a pattern?).

04/11/14: I wrote a letter (5) of complaint to the IMB chair.

11/11/14: I He replied saying that he would speak to the member who saw me, to find out what happened to my queries; and get back to me. You guessed it; he didn’t get back to me.
19/01/15: I submitted another letter (6) of complaint to the Chair. Yet again no reply.

2202/15: I submitted an internal complaint (Comp 1) detailing the above chronology and asked for an explanation, meet with me to discuss this case, and to fully investigate.

25/03/15: The Chair replied:” I have spoken to [IMB member] He assures e that he will come to see you at the earliest opportunity to follow up on any outstanding complaints. I am hopeful that this will have taken place by the time you receive this reply. I hope he will be able to resolve your concerns.” Well, he never came to see me and my concerns were not resolved.

02/04/15: I submitted the second stage complaint ( Comp 1A ) informing the Chair that this member had not come to see me, and, “Given his past unreliability” I did not want any further contact with him. I then asked him to address the 3 requests from the Comp 1, or forward the address of the IMB’s head office and/or board of directors/patrons to enable me to take the complaint further.

09/04/15: His reply: “As explained in my previous reply … I was expecting [the IMB member] to come and see you as soon as he is able. I hope that this proves to be the most effective way of resolving your complaint.” That was it. All my complaints ignored.

05/05/15: I submitted a letter of complaint to the IMB’s head office. Unfortunately, I had been given the wrong address.

01/ 06/15: Resubmitted my complaint to the right address … and waited … and waited … and waited. No acknowledgement.

30/07/15: Wrote again and put them on notice that I would be contacting my MP to seek a referral to the Parliamentary Ombudsman, should they not reply.

11/08/15: Wha’d’you know … I got a reply – hurrah! “… I am sorry your complaint has not been replied to earlier. This has now been passed to me to investigate further …” Just passed? After nearly 2. ½ months?

“Monitoring fairness and respect for people in custody” – really? It remains to be seen. Watch this space.

Food / Diet

As a result of my heart attack. I’ve been put on a ‘special’ (low-fat) diet. This was instigated by me but agreed with the Doctor. I’m willing to try anything to avoid further heart issues. This is my 4 week plan.

Week 1
Day Lunch Tea
Sun Spicy veg risotto Roast veg cous cous
Mon Salad Filling Vegan Goulash
Tues Packet Noodles Veg Madras
Wed Spicy Veg Risotto Jacket potatoes & Beans
Thurs Rice Salad Box Vegan Lasagne
Fri Vegan Sausage Filling Vegan Pizza
Sat Salad Filling Sweet and Sour Veg

Week 2
Day Lunch Tea
Sun Vegan Sausage Filling Vegan Hotpot
Mon Veg Stir Fry Veg Casserole
Tues Salad Filling Vegan Ratatouille
Wed Packet Noodles Vegan Mushroom Pasta Bake
Thurs Rice Salad Box Vegan Chickpea Curry
Fri Salad Filing Jacket Potato & Beans
Sat Vegan sausage & Tomato Vegan Burger

Week 3
Day Lunch Tea
Sun Vegan Sausage Filling Veg Stew
Mon Salad Filling Thai Chicken Curry
Tues Packet Noodles Lentil Curry
Wed Vegan Sausage Filling Jacket Potato & beans
Thurs Rice Salad Box Vegan Casserole
Fri Salad Filling Vegan Sausage Hot Dog
Sat Packet Noodles Lentil Stew

Week 4
Day Lunch Tea
Sun Salad Filling Bean Goulash
Mon Vegan Sausage Filling Lentil Curry
Tues Rice Salad Box Vegan Hotpot
Wed Packet Noodles Vegan Sausage
Thurs Pasta Salad Box Veg Italienne
Fri Vegan Sausage Filling Curried Cauliflower
Sat Salad Filling Vegan Chilli & Rice

I also get a weekly vegan pack, which consists of:

Dried chickpeas;
Dried black-eyed beans ;
Red lentils;
Brown rice;
Salted peanuts;
Walnuts or blanched flaked almonds;
Sunflower seeds;
Peanut butter;
Porridge oats ;and,
14 x 250ml soya milk

Plus, a veg pack:

1 /2 cabbage
1 x potato
2 x carrots
1 x onion, and a bit of swede.

I also get a couple of pieces of fruit, a coffee sachet, a packet of crisps, and 4 slices of bread each day. The evening meals are supplemented with veg and rice or new potatoes/mash/roast potatoes.

Where to start with those gastronomic delights? Well, let’s start with the quantities. Most of the dishes are served in a small foil tray (some in an even smaller foil tray – 200/250 ml). The kitchen recently had £5K taken off their food budget; this now works out at about £2 per head per day. The quantities in the nuts and raisins in the vegan pack are derisory; the rest is not much better. An example of one of my lunches.

Soup (oh, I forgot about the soup – no wonder, it’s around 200 ml, not even one full cup of soup.):
Salad filling (consisting of ½ tomatoes, 2 slices cucumber, ½ spring onion and a few scraps of lettuce.
A pear;
An 18 g packet of crisps; and,
The daily allowance of 4 slices of bread.

Then there are all of the dishes I Throw in the bin: risotto; goulash; rice salad box; vegan sausages; sweet and sour veg; stew; pasta salad box – it’s a variety of reasons; including too high fat and just plain unpleasant. That’s around 40% of the meals. It should be noted that the £2 per day per prisoner is not allocated fairly. The meat dishes, of course, are more expensive. This can only be achieved by pinching the budget from other prisoners (see my lunch above). My Mother always comments on how thin I look when she visits. Given the above, this should be of no surprise.

Then there are the health costs. For example, the oil in the fryer only gets changed once a week. This leads to carcinogenic aldehydes forming in the oil every time it gets reheated. It would be interesting for a long term study to be undertaken on prisoners; to compare the incidents of cancers and heart disease against the rest of the population. It’s already been found that spending a significant period in prison reduces your life expectancy by around 10 years.

So, the next time you buy into the myth perpetuated by the media that prisoners are being fed like kings…

Be happy, be safe, and see you next time.
Graham Coutts 18 Th August 2015

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