In 1998 the Labour government introduced the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. CSCs are a type of control unit. A prisoner with recent experience of the CSC system reports on the ‘assessment’ process for moving prisoners from the mainstream into the CSCs.
CSC assessment may seem acceptable if you read the CSC Manual and Operating Standards; however in reality the Prison Service Instructions are nothing but a public face to cover the disturbing practices of the CSC.
CSC selection is supposed to be based upon individual risk assessment; however, prior to assessment, prisoners are kept in segregation for a lengthy period, severely abused and isolated; then, while the prisoners are in this vulnerable state, Woodhill prison CSC sends a trainee psychologist to extract the answers they require to write a report.
Staff read through prisoners’ files to find any complaints they have entered or any times prisoners have reacted violently; this is to know what buttons to push to get a reaction. Then their games start… Complained about visits before – then maybe your visitors are denied access to the prison. Problems with mail – your mail could now be completely stopped. Complained about food – your meal choice could now be wrong every day. Reacted violently in the past – there will be repeated false allegations of your making threats. Whatever each prisoner has had problems with is used in an attempt to provoke the most extreme reaction.
The prison knows exactly it is doing. If the prisoner doesn’t become more volatile, the psychologist will say that they are attempting to manipulate the staff into believing they are not dangerous. If the prisoner complains about the provocation, then he is demonstrating ‘administrative violence’ in an attempt to waste prison management’s time through unfounded complaints. A violent reaction and the referral was correct – the prisoner is a clear danger and must be selected.
So what actually is the purpose of the CSC? To remove prisoners who have caused an embarrassment to the Prison Service as a punishment and have them in permanent segregation until they go crazy. For those who end up on CSC, the odds of getting off it are highest if your next stop is to be Broadmoor, Rampton or Ashworth. If you don’t have a mental disorder and do not want one, then avoid the Close Supervision Centre system!