Free David Ferguson

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Blog entry 23rd January 2016

2016 is underway! I hope that my appeal legal team now pull out all the stops to force Kent Crown Prosecution Service and Police to disclose all of the evidence that they withheld at my trial.

My co-claimant and I await to be given a hearing date for our Judicial Review against HMP Wakefield. This is for the prison's actions obstructing our ability to study for our Open University degrees. A week before Christmas the prison's Head of Reducing Re-offending resorted to thinly disguised intimidation tactics to try and dissuade us from continuing with our J. R.

In December of this year I will have a pre-tariff sift review. This is to determine whether I have progressed through the prison system sufficiently to be released on my sentence tariff expiry date in December 2019. The answer to this is that due to the prison system openly discriminating against Cat-A life sentence prisoners who maintain innocence, I haven't. HMP Wakefield operates an unwritten policy that ensures prisoners of my position cannot be de-categorised and then progressed on through the system to be released. This situation is not helped by prolonged failures of the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Prison Ombudsman to challenge HMP Wakefield as to why it has never progressed one of its Cat-A lifers who maintains innocence.

Evidence proves that HMP Wakefield is systematically failing in achieving the de-categorisation and necessary progression of its Cat-A prison population. Current Freedom of Information Requests revealed that:

  • Across the High Security Prison Estate (consisting of some 7 prisons), 72 Category A review panels were overdue for the previous 12 months. Out of the 7 prisons 36 (half) of these overdue reviews were the responsibility of HMP Wakefield. This equates to almost a quarter of the prisons yearly reviews!
  • Of the Cat-A reviews completed across the High Security Prison Estate two-thirds of prisoners reviewed at each jail were de-categorised. Except for at HMP Wakefield. Here less than one-ninth of those reviewed were given de-categorisation!

Despite these embarrassing statistics for Cat-A reviews and progression here at HMP Wakefield Prison Service HQ, the Ministry of Justice, the Government and Prison Ombudsman are all failing to challenge the prison on these failures.

So why should this be of interest to the public? Answer: Because it costs the tax payer over £50,000 per year, per Cat-A prisoner. Let's put this in perspective. Despite having lower risk assessment scores than most Cat-B prisoners on the High Security Prison system I have been held as a Cat-A for 15 years costing the British tax payer over £700,000. All this because I maintain innocence.

Yet at the same time prisoners with extensive histories of absconding, violence whilst in prison, drug abuse and infringement of even the most basic rules and regimes are given de-categorisation and are moved on to open prison conditions and release. It is the majority of these prisoners who then abscond and re-offend once free.

Just how much cost, in every sense of the word, does the Ministry of Justice and the National Offender Management System feel it appropriate to inflict on the British tax payer?

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