Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Demo protesting the death of Karen Ann Fletcher in Holloway Prison

This was originally published on No more Prison's website in 2005.


Report on Prison death demonstration held on Wednesday 09.11.05 to protest against the death of Karen Ann Fletcher, 30, who died on 28.10.05

By Pauline Campbell

  • 16th demonstration since protests began in April 2004;
  • two-hour demonstration was attended by 25 protesters (including two ex-prisoners).
  • Prison van halted at 2.55 pm, as it attempted to take prisoners into the jail.
  • While the van was stopped, Duty Governor Mr McCaighy, and his colleague Mr Ryan, came out of the prison, and requested that the vehicle be allowed to enter the jail.
  • Request refused on the grounds that it was unsafe to allow prisoners to be taken into Holloway, following the recent death.
  • Police were called, and approx 15 officers attended the incident.
  • 3.15 pm: I was arrested (my 10th arrest since last year) for an "alleged obstruction of the highway", and taken to Islington Police Station.
  • Handcuffs were not used at this arrest.
  • After two and a half hours, I was released without charge. Custody Sgt White and his Inspector made the decision that it was "not in the public interest to continue with a prosecution".
  • I was held in the custody suite but not, on this occasion, locked in a police cell.

"It is believed that Karen Fletcher was recently transferred to Holloway from Styal Prison, Cheshire. Her death, the fourth at HMP Holloway since April 2004, again raises questions about the legal duty of care owed to prisoners. In addition, a Holloway inmate remains on a life support machine, after being cut down from a makeshift noose at the jail in May 2004. The Chief Inspector of Prisons' report, published earlier this year, highlighted problems of dirt and vermin at HMP Holloway."
  • Demonstration was attended by local photographers and reporters.
  • Prison Governor did not respond to a note sent into the prison.
Pauline Campbell

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Further failure documented - the only answer for Styal Prison is closure

This was published on the No More Prison Website in 2006

The publication this week of the Inspectorate of Prisons report on Styal Prison confirms that it is still a desperate and failing institution. It contains many recommendations but fails to identify the one simple solution - close Styal Prison.

The reality of Styal - humiliation, abuse, pain and lack of care

Key findings of the inspection team include:
  • The use of violent force by Prison Officers on prisoners had doubled in the last two years
  • An increase in prisoners being assulted and in levels of bullying
  • Serious self harming is "prolific" and is responded to by prison staff using force and confinement in punishment cells.
  • Women who self harmed were being routinely stripped as punishment.
  • The use of "unfurnished" cells has increased by 250% in two years
  • No support was given to many self harming women
  • The mother and baby unit failed to meet child protection standards
  • The Prison is not reviewing "near-death" incidents to learn lessons
  • The Food in the prison remains very bad and unhealthy in content and in preparation.
  • Many of the toilets were unscreened
  • All day child visits had been stopped
  • Many new prisoners were not being issued with even a single bra.
  • The "Segregation unit" had been renamed the "Care, support and reintegration unit"

Who we lock up - the powerless and abused

The report also included details of the women that we lock up in Styal:

  • The majority of women caged have been victims of rape or other serious assults
  • There are high levels of mental illness and acute mental distress
  • 80% had serious and longstanding substance misuse problems
  • 60% are mothers
  • The vast majority are "low risk" and with no histories of violence
Lies exposed

The Report challenges the Prison's own account of the regime experienced by women effectively accusing the Governor and his staff of lying about the time women spend out of the cells. They point out that despite the Prison claiming women are allowed out of their cells for 11 hours a day the reality is that the most vulnerable are locked up for 19 hours or more a day. Such evidence suggests the reality of Styal is likely to be far more painful, brutal and abusive than is claimed by the Governor.

Recommendations - keep trying!!
Despite all the good work done by the Inspectorate in exposing some of the reality of Britain's prisons they tend to disappoint when it comes to recommendations of what is to be done. The Inspectorate never forget that there belief in Prison and the suggested "improvements" they ask for reflect this belief. They make hundreds of recommendations when only one was really necessary.

Styal has failed it should be closed.

To maintain this ludicrous perspective that Styal could be a "healthy place" requires great naivety and many of the recommendations reflect this. On race relations after failing to make a recommendation in the last report they this time boldly request that:

Managers should discuss with the prisoner race relations committee the reasons that black and minority ethnic women prisoners have a different perception of their treatment than white women prisoners, and aim to address those differences.
Was it too much for them to consider the reason was racism?

Styal must close

The report fails to mention the Government's plans to double the size of Styal increasing dramatically the abuse, hard and pain this evil place inflicts on powerless and abused women. No More Prison is committed to resisting this expansion and instead calling for the immediate closure of Styal.

Styal has no future. It is unreformable. It is a place of abuse, pain and death. Close it now


Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Remember Caroline Powell

This report was originally published on the No More Prison Website in January 2007

Mother-of-five, Caroline Powell, died on 5 January 2007 while on remand at Eastwood Park Prison, Gloucestershire. In response Pauline Campbell held a demonstration on Wednesday 24 January 2007 outside the prison. It was the 20th such demo organised by Pauline following a death.

During the demo Pauline Campbell was arrested (Its her 14th arrest on prison death demos), and charged (for the fourth time)

Pauline Reports:

Following the tragic death of Caroline Powell on 5 January 2007, a demonstration was held outside the prison on the afternoon of Wednesday 24 January 2007. Around 10-15 people attended the protest, including reporters and photographers. Protesters had travelled from London, Shropshire, and Cheshire, to protest against the death of this vulnerable young woman, aged 26, who died in the 'care' of Her Majesty's Prison Eastwood Park. Caroline leaves behind five motherless children, the youngest aged 18 months. Ms Powell was on remand, and legally innocent, when she died.

At 2.55 pm, Reliance prison van FX04 BUP, was stopped as it attempted to take prisoners into the jail. The driver was informed that (a) protesters regarded the jail as unsafe in view of the recent death; (b) the vehicle would not be allowed into the prison; and (c) he should take the women to a place of safety. Officers from Avon & Somerset Constabulary were called to the prison. Six officers arrived, and one began filming the demonstration. The sergeant read aloud a printed notice, then handed the copy to me. Dated 24.01.07, it reads: "To whom it may concern: I am the senior police officer here. I believe that you are committing, have committed, or intend to commit an offence of trespassing with the common purpose of deterring, obstructing or disrupting lawful activity and I require you to leave immediately. Failure to obey my direction may render you liable to arrest. If you return to the land as a trespasser within 3 months you will also commit an offence for which you may be arrested. Sergeant 1958 Ogborne." At 4.20 pm I was arrested for "aggravated trespass and obstruction of the highway", and taken to Staple Hill Police Station, South Gloucestershire. Handcuffs were not used.

We arrived at the police station at 5 pm; detention was authorised at 5.30 pm.

Photographs, fingerprints, and DNA were taken. I objected (as I have done on a previous occasion) to mouth swabs being taken by a police officer, and expressed the view that taking body samples from any orifice should be done by a nurse or doctor, not a police officer. I refused to sign the form which acknowledged that my prints had been taken and that the officer had informed me the prints would be kept on file for I.D. and crime investigation purposes. It was explained to me that it was within my rights not to sign.

I was locked in a cell; allowed to contact the duty solicitor while detained; then subsequently charged ("aggravated trespass - fail to leave land"). My reply to the charge, logged in police records, was: "Caroline Powell died on 5 January 2007 at Eastwood Park Prison; she has left behind five motherless children, and that explains the demonstration and my arrest today." Reporters and photographers from local newspapers attended the protest, which was also covered by local radio. BBC Points West attended the demonstration, and a news report was included on regional television at 6.30 pm. The news item, broadcast into about five counties, included footage showing the arrest. I have been granted unconditional bail to appear in North Avon Magistrates' Court, Kennedy Way, Yate, Bristol, BS27 4PY, on Thursday 1 February 2007 at 9.45 a.m. At 7.45 pm, I was released from custody. A police car returned me to Falfield, to enable me to collect my car.

Additional information

(1) Caroline Powell's grieving family are receiving support and advice from INQUEST, London: Caroline's father asked to be put in touch with me, and we spoke on the telephone on 23 January 2007, the day before the demonstration. He expressed wholehearted support for the protest, and said he was "100% behind the demonstration". Family members are grieving deeply, and preparing for the funeral, and therefore were unable to join us outside the prison.

(2) An invitation was sent to Steve Webb, MP (Lib Dem), inviting him to attend the demonstration. In his e-mail reply to me, dated 22.01.07, he said: "Thank you for letting me know of your forthcoming demonstration. I will be at Westminster on Wednesday and will be unable to attend, but I am grateful to you for letting me know of the demonstration and certainly agree that the issue which you are highlighting is an important one."

(3) On the afternoon of the demonstration, a letter was sent into the prison (via a visitor), addressed to Governor Tim Beeston, asking if he would meet protesters at the prison gates. The letter was returned to me, unopened, at the end of visiting. The prison had apparently refused to accept the letter as it did not quote the prison's full postal address.


"The deaths of two women prisoners this month (Caroline Powell at Eastwood Park Prison, and Lucy Wood at HMP Peterborough on 15.01.07) again bring into sharp focus the fatal consequences of sending vulnerable women to prisons that cannot meet their human needs.

"Thirty-four women have now died in the 'care' of women's jails since my daughter died in 2003. All were owed a legal duty of care. Courts must stop sending women to their deaths.

"Caroline Powell was on remand at Eastwood Park Prison and was legally innocent when she died. Her father told me it was her first time in jail. I am still struggling to understand what useful purpose is served by herding so many vulnerable women into institutions that are not equipped to deal with their complex needs. The harsh and punitive treatment of women offenders is a disgrace."

(Figures refer to self-inflicted deaths; England and Wales)


Six print size colour photos are available
(No's 1, 2 and 3: taken before the arrest; No. 4: the arrest; No's 5 and 6: immediately following the arrest)

Freelance photographer: Guy Smallman
Tel 07956 429059



Photos can be used for free by progressive and campaigning groups (Guy Smallman must be notified of their use).

Local papers (usually free) must notify Guy Smallman of use.

National papers pay going rate and notify Guy Smallman of use.


Monday, 9 August 2010

Anti Social Behaviour Orders

This was originally published on No More Prison's Website in 2005

What is an ASBO?

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders were introduced by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and came into force on 1 April 1999. ASBO's ban individuals from entering certain areas or carrying out specific acts for a minimum period of two years. The acts are not normally acts that are otherwise illegal or criminal. However once an ASBO has been served these acts become criminal offences (only for the person the ASBO was served) that can attract up to 5 years imprisonment.

An application for an ASBO can be made to a magistrate by police forces, local authorities, housing action trusts and registered social landlords and imposed on the individual deemed guilty of "anti-social behaviour". The Government defines this as
behaviour which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more people who are not in the same household as the perpetrator
ASBOs also take the form of interim orders (made by the magistrates' court or the county court ahead of a full hearing), county court orders (obtained when other proceedings against an individual are underway such as possession of tenancy) and "orders made on conviction in criminal proceedings" (where the criminal courts can serve an order on an individual convicted of a criminal offence).

An ASBO is a civil order, this means that the burden of proof is lower than in criminal cases, and hearsay evidence is admissible. This lower rate of proof has made application very difficult to resist. The courts refuse less than 1 in 60 applications. If breached, the individual has committed a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, currently before Parliament, is proposing to remove the anonymity of children involved in criminal proceedings for breaching the terms of their ASBO to facilitate their "naming and shaming". In January 2005 the Joint Committee on Human Rights expressed concern at clauses 127 and 128.

Some examples of the use of ASBO's
  • In October 2004 a profoundly deaf girl was served an ASBO for spitting in public. She was subsequently imprisoned.
  • In July 2003 an 87 year old was served an order which, among other things, banned him from being sarcastic to his neighbours.
  • Manchester - female prostitute banned from carrying condoms in an area which included her drug clinic which, as part of its harm reduction work, provides clients with free condoms.
  • Leonard Hockey, a homeless man issued with an ASBO banning him from begging. He was later breached and imprisoned. He died in prison.
  • A 74 year old woman is facing prison if she insults her neighbours or makes any form of complaint to public bodies.
  • In October 2004, two brothers aged 10 and 11 were among other things banned from congregating in a group of more than two people or entering any domestic or commercial property without the prior consent of the owner.
  • Birmingham, a 26 homeless man given an ASBO banning begging. He continued begging and got a two year sentence. On his release he started begging again and was sentenced to a further 3 year prison. In total to date he has been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for an offence that is not in itself imprisonable.
  • A 17-year-old sentenced to four months' youth detention after he broke his order in a 3am fracas with police at his home. However, his lawyer revealed that in the previous 14 months he had been charged with an offence on 19 separate occasions and all of which had resulted in his favour. His lawyer claimed this to be "a pretty outrageous statistic" and that "he's been targeted and I am quite sure the conduct of the police was entirely unacceptable"
  • A 47 year old man was banned from buying or consuming any alcohol. He breached it and was imprisoned.
  • A 13 year old boy has been banned from using the word "grass" anywhere in England and Wales.
  • A 16 year old boy ordered, at the threat of up to 5 years imprisonment, not to behave in an anti social manner at school. His crime, disrupting a science class.
  • Manchester - 18 year old man banned from congregating with three or more other "youths" arrested for attending a successful youth club that was running a session on "how to deal with anti-social behaviour"
  • In August 2004 a homeless alcoholic was banned from consuming alcohol in a public place and entering licenced premises. He breached this order within two weeks.
  • Manchester City Council obtained an ASBO against mobile soup vans providing assistance to homeless people in the city centre.
  • A 20 year old long term prisoner was on the day before his release served an ASBO banning him from entering the estate he lived on with his Grandmother. He had been her carer since he was 12 years old.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

ASBO Concern

This was orginally puiblished on the No More Prison Website in 2005

Asbo Concern, a new campaigning organisation, is to be launched next month. Coordinator Matt Foot, a criminal defence solicitor, explains: "The government is irresponsible promoting Asbos - which often criminalise people for behaviour that is not criminal - when there is no evidence that they work. We have serious concerns about the way they are used and want to organise the broadest possible coalition to put pressure on the government for a full review."

The New Group's Launch meeting takes place at 7.00pm on Thursday 7th April at Friends Meeting House opposite Euston Station.


We are an alliance of organisations and individuals who wish to campaign about serious concerns with the use of ASBOs.


1. Anti-social behaviour can cause distress and misery but the response to it must be appropriate, just, proportionate, positive and effective.

2. Asbos are a punitive measure that can criminalise people for behaviour that is not criminal, and often imposed only on the basis of hearsay evidence.

3. They do nothing to deal with the causes of anti-social behaviour and can distort the work that is being done to build stronger communities.

4. The government is increasing the use of Asbos, despite the fact that there is no evidence that they work. Home Office figures show that at least one third of Asbos are breached.

5. Asbos can result in eviction of whole families and are increasing the prison population, with people being jailed for breaches of Asbos even for offences that would not otherwise be imprisonable. Around 10 young people a week are imprisoned this way.

6. We want properly funded community and youth services and support for people with mental health, drug and alcohol or other social problems to build an inclusive society.


1. To bring together those concerned about the way asbos are used - charities, professionals, trade unions, community groups, young people and others - in a joint campaign.

2. To publicly highlight the problems with asbos and the need for alternative ways of tackling anti-social behaviour that does not criminalise people for actions that are not criminal.

3. To counteract the scapegoating and stigmatising of children and young people and vulnerable groups and campaign for properly funded youth services and support for those who need it.

4. To campaign for a full public government review of asbos and the way they are used.



NAPO, CYWU, Inquest, British Association of Social Workers, Childrens Rights Alliance, Action on Rights for Children, Fair Play for Children, Brent Youth Company, Holborn GMB, Legal Action for Women, International Prostitutes Collective, The Green Party, Respect,,  Red Pepper, Scottish Prostitutes Education Project.


Janet Batsleer, Louise Christian, Bernard Davies, Pam Eland, Matt Foot, Helen Gregory, Gavin Shelton, Iain Taylor, Elizabeth Harding, Liz Richmond, Rev Ray Gaston, Jen Malcolm, Tim Farrell, Dave Edwards, Sue Spilling, Dr Jane Ferrie, Adah Kay, Mike MacNair, Caroline Lucas MEP, Manuela Sykes, Richard Hoyle, Martina Habeck, Marie Xenophontos, Jon Davis, Hilary Wainwright.

External Links

Saturday, 7 August 2010


First published on the No More Prison Website in January 2007

A vigil to mark the 4th anniversary of the death of Sarah Campbell was held on Thursday 18 January 2007 outside HMP & YOI Styal, Cheshire

Flowers were laid in memory of Sarah, who died on 18 January 2003, aged 18. Banners displayed outside the prison included "SHAME ON THE HOME OFFICE" - very apt, considering their lack of apology over Sarah's death. The vigil was attended by friends and supporters from Cheshire, Shropshire, and Greater Manchester, including representatives from FRFI (Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!), Manchester. A number of supporters were unable to attend due to very bad weather conditions. Visitors to the prison stopped to speak. Some family members expressed concern about the self-harming behaviour of their loved ones held at HMP Styal, including one mother who spoke of her daughter having tried to commit suicide.

Sarah's mother Pauline comments ""Sarah's death, on 18 January 2003, has left a deep void in my life. She was my only child, and I miss her terribly. Although the Home Office have accepted liability for her death, I despair at the lack of apology. A vigil will continue to be held every year as a way of remembering Sarah, whose young life was abruptly ended due to appalling failures on the part of the prison. Whatever a person has done wrong, no-one deserves to die in this way. Tragically, and on the same day that Sarah's vigil was being held, it was reported in the press that two women prisoners have killed themselves in the past ten days."

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Child Abuse

John Bowden writes from Perth Prison

In 2004 15 year old Gareth Myatt died whilst bring “restrained” by three members
of staff at a privatized children's prison called Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre in Warwickshire. In the same year 14 year old Adam Rickwood hanged himself in another privatized children's jail, Hassockfield Secure Training Centre in Co. Durham. A Judge later ruled that the guards who “restrained” Adam
shortly before his death had used unlawful force on him. Six years later and following a sustained campaign by parents of imprisoned children and groups like the Children's Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) a shocking government document detailing control methods used on children, some as young as 12, in custody has been revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.

Published by the Prison Service in 2005 and classified as a restricted government document, the manual provides staff in secure training centres with authorization to inflict physical pain on children with so-called “restraint and self-defence techniques”. The methods of physical force described in the manual are so legally questionable that the government was prepared to be taken to a tribunal to fight against disclosure of the document despite a ruling by the Information Commissioner that it should be publicly released. Previously government officials had even refused to provide a copy to the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee. Eventually the Ministry of Justice was forced to back down and release the document; it's contents made the reticence of the Justice Ministry to shame with the public, such information all too self-explanatory.

Some of the “restraint” methods used against children in custody approved by the Justice Ministry, currently headed by the liberal-thinking Ken Clark, include:
  • ramming knuckles into the ribs of children and raking shoes down the shins.
  • It also authorised staff to: “Drive straightened fingers into the young person's face, and then quickly drive the straightened fingers of the same hand downwards into the young person's groin area”.
  • “Use an inverted knuckle into the trainee's sternum and drive inward and upward”.
  • “Continue to carry alternate elbow strikes to the young person's ribs until a release is achieved”.
  • “Nose distraction techniques” - sharp blows to the children's nose – had already been found by the Court of Appeal to have been routinely and unlawfully used against children in at least one secure training centre.
The contracting out of such brutal methods of control and punishment to institutions run by private firms for profit raises an obvious moral question and issue.

Instructions issued to staff in the secure training centres reveal a calculated understanding that such “control techniques” could lead to serious injury to the child and even death; “the techniques could risk a fracture of the scull and temporary or permanent blindness caused by rupture of the eyeball or detached retina”. There is also an acknowledgement that some techniques could cause asphyxia; staff are told that while applying headlocks to children that “if breathing is compromised it could lead to a medical emergency”.

Carolyne Willow, national co-ordinator of CRAE, said: “The manual is deeply disturbing and stands as state authorisation of institutionalised child abuse. What made former ministers believe that children as young as 12 could get so out of control so often that staff should be taught how to ram their knuckles into their rib cages? Would we allow teachers. etc., to be trained in how to deliberately hurt and humiliate children?

Images of Abu Graib prison in Iraq are evoked by instructions instruction to force difficult children to “adopt a kneeling position while a second member takes control of the head by grabbing the back of the neck while cupping the chin”. Whilst in this position steel handcuffs are applied to the child. Ms Willow describes such methods as ”The ritualistic humiliation of children and a clear abuse of human rights”.

Phillip Noyes, director of strategy and development at the National Society for the prevention of cruelty to children said: “These shocking revelations graphically illustrate the cruel and degrading violence inflicted at times on children in custody. On occasions these restraint techniques have resulted in children suffering broken arms, noses, wrists and fingers. Painful restraint is a clear breach of children's human rights against some of the most vulnerable youngsters in society and has no place in a decent society”.

During the 12 months up to March 2009, restraint was used 1.776 times in the UK's four secure training centres.

In the Houses of Lords on 21 July 2010 Lord McNally in response to questions about the methods of control described in the manual said “we use the word “children” very casually to describe often very large and quite violent young people in these centres”, and “we also have a duty of care to the staff who deal with these often very violent young people”. Often disturbed and unruly children, some as young as 12 years of age, are metamorphosed in Lord McNally's mind into large and physically violent young adults as he tries to defend what Ms Swaine the legal director of CRAE, describes as “Guidance given in a staff authorised manual to violate human rights because is allows staff to deliberately hurt children outside cases of life-threatening necessity”.

What the manual actually reveals is an attitude and mindset that believes damaged and already brutalised children can be made to conform by the use of even more brutality and cruelty. In reality what such treatment creates is more severely disturbed young people seriously alienated from and actively hostile to society. What is being manufactured in these secure training centres are ticking time bombs that are then delivered into the wider community. A disproportionate number of seriously violent offenders and long-term prisoners are the product of a childhood spent in children's homes and youth custody institutions where physical abuse and violence formed a routine part of their treatment. When the lesson being taught to children in custody is that power is represented by the power to hurt and control then that lesson will eventually be learned and practised in their own lives. What is sown behind the walls of child prisons will eventually be reaped by the wider community. The campaign to stop the abuse of children in custody shouldn't be viewed as it is by tabloid newspapers and those responsible for that abuse as the prerogative of “wishy-washy liberals”; the wider society should realise that it has a vested interest in stopping the de-humanization of imprisoned children.

John Bowden
August 2010
HMP Perth