End Solitary Confinement, Shut Down The CSC, Stop The Torture Now
Almost six years have passed since I was first condemned to live within England's most brutal and notorious prison conditions known as the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. The CSC is a collection of small isolation units within the high security prison estate used to psychologically torture and dehumanize those prisoners that have most embarrassed the prison service, or endangered the cult who call themselves the Prison Officers Association (POA). Effectively each victim is more appropriately described as a political prisoner due to their mistreatment within the CSC even if they are ordinary criminals on a normal prison sentence, since the oppressive way they are forced to spend their time is so far removed from the experiences of those on main location that they would not be able to even comprehend the massive extent of the differences between themselves and the CSC political prisoners.
During my personal experience of this unsparing environment, a steady progression towards a much more severe regime and more frequent abuse has been witnesses whilst the capacity and size of the CSC has continued to expand. Victims have been unable to succeed in escaping this hell without first being driven insane, and only then do they manage to elude the fire by being sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983 to a high security hospital in order to attempt to treat them for the damage the extreme environmental stress has caused. If these patients are successful in recovering from their damaged minds, they are then returned to the CSC to be broken again and again. It is no wonder then that in my time on the CSC, the CSC population has doubled, and the characters it has comprised of has included more and more severely mentally ill men.
Earlier this year Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP) had an opportunity to address the inhumanity of the CSC system when it performed its so called 'thematic review'. Unfortunately HMCIP chose instead to cover up the appalling sight which is already kept hidden from the rest of the world, with the inevitable result that conditions drastically worsened with the CSC management feeling they are free to torture its victims without fear of exposure. Previous inspectors such as Sir David Ramsbotham had condemned the prison system, but times have changed with torture effectively now being condoned
Back in 2001, the then director general of the prison service, Martin Narey, sanctioned the expansion of the CSC system to include the Exceptional Risk Unit (ERU) at HMP Wakefield. When he announced the opening of the dungeon he made the statement 'I do not expect prisoners to die there, I would expect them to move on when their dangerousness has reduced – but that would take a long time. Since then one of the residents unlucky enough to be placed there has managed to die of age related illness, Frederick Lowe, yet no move to change the operation of the CSC in any way but to further oppress has been seen. The former director of high security prisons, Peter Atherton, when speaking of the CSC has said: 'The prison service recognizes that these segregation conditions are now quite inappropriate. We should be seeking to develop a unit which, within the restrictions that we have to maintain is humane and meets the needs that they have'. Unfortunately the idea for the creation of the CSC system came from the Spurr Report, the author now being the director general of the National Offender Management Service with the power to roll back all progressive changes ever made to his sadistic plan, things were only ever going to go one way.
Unable to cope in these torture units back when the experiment first began in 1998, prisoners took to challenging the regime, conditions and their placement there. With the idealistic removal of legal aid by Chris Grayling MP, the CSC's victims have been left in a much more desperate situation than ever before. It should come as no surprise to hear then that after repeated requests to transfer by the formal mental health patient, Lee Scott, this political prisoner took to slashing the prison officers, who were brutalizing him with a razor blade which earned him an immediate exit from the unit to another prison. Scott was my replacement on Woodhill CSC when I was ambushed with a transfer to worse conditions a year ago in January 2015. He lasted only nine months before being able to take no more in a place I have spent some four years detained since 2010. This however, is not the truly harrowing development which was always going to happen, only part of the story.
Almost a year ago, Douglas Gary Vinter took to seriously assaulting fellow CSC prisoner, Lee Newell, causing permanent brain damage and leaving him missing an eye. This attack came after several months of both men repeatedly requesting to transfer out of Woodhill CSC, until the local management decided to eliminate the causes of their annoyance and lock them both in a cage unsupervised knowing Vinter was suffering from Psychosis due to the environmental stress, then waiting for their desired result. Vinter secured a transfer to another CSC whilst Newell spent weeks chained to a hospital bed whilst in a coma, making both of them no longer needing to request to leave.
Some of you may have seen the letter printed in Inside Time earlier this year by EB from HMP Woodhill. EB was in fact Eddie Brown, the ex Rampton Hospital patient from Manchester who had been a CSC victim for around two years. He had made repeated suicide attempts since his allocation to the CSC including swallowing batteries and slashing his wrists with razors provided by sadistic prison officers working there. EB explained his desperation and despair at the regime and the conditions of imprisonment he was suffering in the CSC which is most accurately described as solitary confinement. Rather than show some humanity and take action to support this man who was known to have serious mental health issues even before being referred to the CSC, in fact his mental state was the reason for his CSC allocation, he was left with what the Prison Reform Trust have previously called 'an austere and impoverished regime' more than fifteen years ago. The consequences of this complete lack of care from the CSC management is that one more space has become available in which to torture another victim as Eddie Brown was able to hang himself on Friday 27th November 2015. This successful suicide attempt was at least encouraged by all of those working within the CSC, but the responsibility for this loss of life also lies at the door of the HMCIP for refusing to maintain their professionalism and write an honest inspection report, as well as the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) for failing to take action in the majority of the CSC treatment and conditions complaints and Chris Grayling MP for leaving England's political prisoners with no means to challenge the torture gleefully inflicted by the sadistic POA.
Death is a rate of escape contemplated daily by the CSC prisoners, and attempted routinely by those who realise it is the only way left for them to be able to leave the CSC. How many more lives will need to be wasted before an end is put to this stupid experiment, and will the public ever be informed of the torture their taxes are funding right here within England's prisons to British citizens. The loss of Eddie Brown is a tragedy, but one which can be used to build hope and create positive change so badly needed if only it can come soon maybe other lives can be saved.
The only option is to terminate the CSC system and begin treating prisoners like human beings. Return the legal aid needed to expose and challenge abuses like this, remove the plague of corruption from within HMCIP and PPO, and eliminate the scourge that is the POA who fight to be able to abuse and torture prisoners which as we all see they are willing to continue until they cause the prisoners death. An inquest or inquiry will not be enough, only when the CSC is finished will its victims be safe.
End solitary confinement, shut down the CSC, stop the torture now.
Monday 30th November
Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
Close Supervision Centre
5 Love Lane