Landmark ruling by court – the dawn of common sense

by Fighting for Justice

The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue January 2012

Landmark ruling by court – the dawn of common sense

From S. Campbell – HMP Wakefield

Prisoners should be made aware of a recent court ruling won by myself and Dave Ferguson at Manchester Crown Court on Sept 22nd before His Honour Judge Pelling QC (case number – co/2194/2195).

In short, Dave and I contested that a local protocol put in place by the governor of HMP Wakefield exceeded the boundaries and limitations as set out in National Prison Rules and related PSO/PSIs. In upholding our claim in full Judge Pelling QC directed –
“In my judgement the effect of these provisions (Prison Rules, PSOs, and PSIs) is entirely clear. Compliance with the terms of the PSI is, in all material respects, mandatory. It is not an option available to a governor or a director, or his or her appointed representative, to depart in any material particular from the requirements of the PSI. Any such departure would be unlawful, both by operation of the terms of the PSI or Prison Rules.”

In short, no governor can implement or enforce rules, regulations or protocols that exceed the boundaries set out in the National Prison Rules or PSO/PSIs. This, in effect, seriously curtails governors’ abilities to implement ‘local rulings’ that do not strictly adhere to the limitations set out in national guidelines.

Finally, Dave and I had taken our original complaint to the Prisons Ombudsman but, unsurprisingly, the Ombudsman failed to uphold our complaint, ignoring the very same facts which Judge Pelling clearly acknowledged. We have written to the Ombudsman asking him to explain the failings of his office in this case but, to date, he has yet to respond.

Comments about this letter

4/1/2012 john farrell –

well done for winning your case against another governor who thinks or thought he could get away with making his own rules up, but do you really think the ombudsman is as independent as he is supposed to be, where do you think he gets his wages from another government department that’s where, if he didn’t know that a governor could or couldn’t change the rules then he is in the wrong job, then again maybe not.

8/1/2012 Jenny Richards

Excellent news, and thank you for telling us of your success. I’ve just read PSI Update about PSI 2011-031 which says B Cat prisoners in A Cat prisons shouldn’t ALL be strip-searched EVERY time they have a social visit. This is effective from last June, yet at the prison where my husband is held they obviously haven’t heard of it (or, more likely, are ignoring it!). All B Cat prisoners are now questioning the search, and are being told the governor ‘would be informed’. The search is then carried out as usual! No-one believes for an instant the Gov doesn’t know the rules, and it is only because of Inside Time that the prisoners now know. Encouraged by S. Campbell’s letter, Comp Forms are being submitted and, if ignored, we will go through the proper process of Ombudsman and Judicial Review.

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