A full inquiry into violence by prison staff in segregation units is urgently needed

by Fighting for Justice

This article from: Prisoners’ Fightback – Issue 217  October/November 2010
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

I write with regards to the letters you’ve received about the abuse prisoners are subjected to by staff in segregation units. The inmates at HMP Frankland are not alone.  I’ve been attacked on a number of occasions over the last four and a half years.

Most recently on 18 March, I was attacked by staff at HMYOI Swinfen Hall’s segregation unit by three members of staff who decided to administer their own form of justice when they punched me in the face, used nose distraction techniques and pulled my arm off the bed threatening to break it. Despite all this being captured on CCTV which clearly shows the staff subject me to an unprovoked attack and contradicts their version of events I now find myself due to stand trial at Stafford Crown Court for two counts of ABH.  They claimed I was being threatening and abusive when in reality it was the staff being threatening and abusive.  I was verbally abused throughout the incident.

Then on 21 July I was again assaulted by staff, this time in HMYOI Reading segregation unit.  My door was opened at around 7am and I was informed I would be going to HMP Woodhill in a few minutes.  I told the Senior Office I didn’t want to go. He then gave the other staff an order to restrain me.  I was then attacked by over six staff, punched in the face, poked in the eye and nose distraction techniques used.  I was pinned on the floor of the cell and placed in handcuffs.  I was then forcefully carried out of the cell.  One officer even grabbed me purposely by my genitals.  Once outside the cell I was once again pinned on the floor.  I was held like this for about two minutes, then carried outside to the van and pinned down for a third time for about five minutes whilst a second set of handcuffs were put on.  I was then carried on to the van and held down until I got to HMP Woodhill.  On arrival I had all my injuries noted by healthcare and I put in an application to see the Police Liaison Officer.   I’ve reported the assault but am yet to hear from Reading police and doubt I will without submitting a complaint.  Unfortunately staff believe and can get away with assaulting prisoners by covering it up, claiming they were assaulted very first.  Very rarely do the police take prisoners’ allegations seriously or investigate them and when they do it’s always the same outcome – no further action.

In October 2006 an operation was set up by Cambridgeshire police to investigate a large number of assaults by staff on prisoners in the segregation unit at HMP Whitemoor –  although I must say I do not know the outcome of the investigation and I’m trying to find out.  I’ve also heard of similar goings-on in the segregation unit at HMP Long Lartin where prisoners have reported being physically and racially abused.  I don’t agree with Colin Moses [Chair of Prison Officers Association] that prisons are being liberalised.  Far from it, in fact; however I do agree that there needs to be a proper investigation, not just of the events at HMP Frankland, but of all segregation units in the high security estate, to establish why there are so many assaults taking place – not a whitewash as Mr Moses suggests but a proper investigation by the Prison Service, the police and the prisoners’ representatives of their choice.

Let’s not be biased – prisoners can and have assaulted staff; however this is normally only after months of abuse, both physical and psychological.  Mr Moses needs to accept that his staff do assault prisoners out of sheer spite, boredom and on occasion for sexual gratification. After the events of 13 March 2010 [for which a prisoner faces charges of attacking staff at Frankland] Mr Moses said he’d like to see the Prison Service adopt a zero tolerance to violence.  What he doesn’t mention is the abuse that prisoner was subject to at HMP Frankland, and after at HMP Wakefield Close Supervision Centre (CSC) and now in HMP Woodhill’s CSC where staff continue to provoke him and subject him to a wide range of psychological abuse and torture.

In the 12 years the CSC system has been in operation it’s been proved it doesn’t work.  In many cases prisoners end up worse than they were before being selected for CSC.  These units are nothing but psychological torture chambers designed to mentally break not the most resilient or dangerous prisoners but prisoners the system has decided to make an example out of.  The CSC system is designed around humiliating and degrading treatment of prisoners and needs to be closed down.

Finally, I urge all your readers to keep challenging false allegations made by staff and stand up against the bullies who abuse their position of trust.

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