Blog entry 25th September 2020
Currently I am still at odds with my old solicitors Wells Burcombe.
They had told the Court of Appeal that they'd sent me the documents the CoA needed on, or prior to August 27th. In fact they didn't send me anything until August 28th. Why they sent me anything is a mystery as I'd given them a very clear and detailed list over a month before specifically asking that the evidence documents be sent direct to the CoA.
Anyhow, once the box of files arrived here at HMP Wakefield the prison then held on to it without telling me it had arrived for over a week. Even then I only found out by chance. When I did finally get the files I found that Wells Burcombe have only sent me half of what is needed and which I had requested. this is now the subject of a formal complaint. Personally, I feel that as Wells Burcombe promotes itself itself as a specialist and leader in representing criminal appeal cases their actions in regards to my case speaks volumes.
Fortunately the CoA is very understanding of the difficulties I have been facing. I've now sent them the files Wells Burcombe have sent me and they (the CoA) have said that I am to send the remainder when Wells Burcombe have sent them to me. I cannot express how grateful I am to the CoA for the patience and understanding that they have shown so far.
My solicitor has had my parole hearing deferred so that new and updated psychological reports can be completed. Originally my hearing should have sat on September 17th. It now seems as though it will sit in early 2021. This will also hopefully enable us to have an 'in person' hearing rather than through video-link facilities, which leave a lot to be desired
Recently there have been media stories about the continued 'lock-down' regimes in British prisons. Of course the militant Prison Officer Association (POA) representative heads are claiming that the current highly restrictive and curtailed regimes should remain in place permanently. They even have the audacity to claim that prisoners as a whole want these restrictions and curtailments to remain. This couldn't be further from the truth, and demonstrates how untrustworthy and manipulative the POA and its spokesbody are.
Here at Wakefield prisoners patience are beginning to wear thin. They are fed up with being constantly herded back to their cells for long periods of lock-up. They have had enough of being told to observe social distancing by staff who then blatantly ignore it themselves. Incidently, in a recent round of testing here no prisoners showed Covid positive, yet a number of staff did!
Prisoners here have had enough of newspaper, magazine and catalogue orders taking months to be completed if at all. Whilst prison management here see this as triviality, for prisoners locked up and climbing the walls (figuratively speaking), these are, major issues that increase anxiety and stress in the current situation.
The nature in which visits are occasionally being facilitated here is off-putting and borders on hostility towards the prisoner and their visitors. There are not enough telephones on the wings for prisoners to maintain meaningful family contact, especially at weekends. Of the 9 pay phones per 170+ prisoners per wing many do not work properly if at all, and are poorly service. At weekends a prisoner can be on a phone for as little as 5 minutes before a staff member is harassing them to finish their call so that the next prisoner can make their call.
Even though outside gyms have been open for weeks, this stress relieving facility still won't open here. Even when it does at some point there will be major issues due to the ridiculously small size of the gym facilities for a prison population of Wakefields size. We've been telling prison management for over a decade that the gym is not fit for purpose facility and size wise (and so has the prison inspectorate). The current Covid situation proves this more than ever.
There are staff here who have been superb during the current restrictions, and feel and want more to be done. However their good is being vastly overshadowed by the bad. If this prison is anything to go by in respect of the rest of British prisons the prison system is fast becoming a ticking time-bomb of Strangeways proportions. How will the POA explain that in view of their incomprehensible claims that prisoners want these restrictive and oppressive regimes to remain?