Posts Tagged ‘ Prison ’


What a Production

Written by admin
January 13th, 2019

Increasingly throughout 2018 a new problem has begun to manifest itself in prisons throughout the land: prisoners are said to be “refusing” to attend.  Whether it is visits at the prison, video link conferences, video links to court, or productions to court as defendants or witnesses, time and again we are being told that the individual has “refused”. 

A number of courts have attempted to establish a protocol, whereby a form has to be completed by the officer visiting the prisoner to try to secure their attendance.  An uncooperative prisoner is unlikely to sign such a form, and so inevitably the form is being completed by officers who may have a skewed perception of what the prisoner is saying, or may have their own reasons for suggesting that the prisoner is being uncooperative. 

If a prisoner can be signed off as “refusing” then there is no need to move them within the prison or from the prison and life becomes concomitantly easier.  Regrettably, however, neither lawyers nor courts can truly have confidence in such a system.  Many clients, seen on a later occasion, will simply say that nobody ever came to get them.  It is not uncommon to be talking to a prisoner on the phone at half past eleven, who is looking forward to an afternoon visit, only to be told that they have “refused” that visit.  May things can happen between 11:30am and 2:00pm, but equally many things may not!

It is hard to know how to rectify the problem, but to enable it to be assessed, it might help if, whenever a client tells their solicitor that they have not in fact been called for, when officers have suggested that they have refused to attend, a widely shared comment to that effect should be added to the digital case system for all to see. 

At present the Parole Board has 240 members. None of the Parole Board’s members are black. 13 of the Parole Board’s members are from the BAME community, but still none of them are black. The B in BAME might as well just not be there.

To achieve an absolute absence of black members of the Parole Board is a considerable achievement. It is not an accident. It is not a mistake. It is not something that could have happened without anybody noticing. It is a diabolical demonstration of the worst forms of institutional racism in practice.

To have a process that fails to appoint, attract, or appeal to members of the black community is utterly unconscionable. Who knows where the fault lies, but there must be a strong argument to say that one of the people responsible is Nick Hardwick, the former head of the Parole Board who resigned with much sympathy and support after the overturning of the parole decision in the John Worboys case.

Whatever Nick Hardwick’s credentials in terms of reform, restructuring, improvements in through put and the like, there can be no doubting that as a fighter of institutional racism he was nothing more than an abject failure.

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