New letter about the Close Supervision Centres by Kevan Thakrar (UK)

From ABC Brighton:

When I first arrived on the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) back in March 2010, only three units existed holding a maximum capacity of 26 prisoners, plus designated cells within the segregation units of most high security prisons providing back-up to these.

These three units were:

HMP Woodhill CSC – Assessment centre holding up to 10 prisoners.
HMP Whitemoor – Selected CSC prisoners unit, holding up to 10 prisoners.
HMP Wakefield – Extreme risk CSC unit, holding up to 6 prisoners.

Most people would say that three CSC units are three too many, especially when the cost of each place on there is over five times a place in a maximum security main location, the brutality inflicted upon the prisoners within them exceeds all other prison environments in the UK, and they cause the majority of their residents to develop major mental illness requiring treatment within the secure hospitals of Broadmoor, Rampton or Ashworth under the Mental Health Act.

It seems prison service management and the brains behind all the legal aid cuts, Chris Grayling MP, do not agree with most people. The massive spending on CSC places has continued to grow to unprecedented levels with HMPS always looking to create new units, and extend overall CSC capacity. Those already in operation having opened after the recession kicked in are:

HMP Woodhill (B-wing) – Selected CSC prisoners unit, holding up to 8 prisoners.
HMP Wakefield – CSC Assessment Centre, holding up to 6 prisoners.
HMP Manchester – Specialist Interventions Unit, holding up to 4 prisoners.

If only that were enough for those in charge of taxpayers money. Not only are they currently paying for construction work to extend the capacity of HMP Manchester’s unit by two places, another new unit is due to be recommissioned as a selected CSC prisoners location at HMP Full Sutton holding up to ten more people.

Since prisoners stopped being allowed to progress from the CSC back to mainstream prison population, the numbers subjected to daily psychological warfare has continued to increase. In an attempt to mirror the Supermax prison system of the USA, the CSC has been allowed to spend, spend and spend to recruit more victims into it’s hell holes. Since March 2010, the only prisoner to return to mainstream prison population is Shahid Amin, all others to leave the CSC have done so through the trap door into a DSPD or secure hospitals, but still remain CSC prisoners should they ever be treated to a sufficient degree that enables them to be deemed recovered from the psychological damage being on the CSC inflicted in the first place.

Where is all this money coming from to warehouse so many prisoners? Why has nobody been campaigning against all of this wastage of money, as well as human minds? 21 MPs signed Early Day Motion 393 against the use of solitary confinement in the US prison system, but where are they each time the CSC expands? It is as if this whole operation has either been conducted in stealth, or nobody wants to look at the situation on their own doorstep. Where are these big human rights bodies who scream about conditions abroad, do they not realise they are paying for the same things to happen here? UN looking at torture abroad, but the main participants of the UN all ignore their own abuses.

“I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body” (Dickens 1842:147). It is well known what the consequences of isolation are, so why does it remain lawful and how can a policy of isolating more at a greater cost be in anyones well meaning benefits? “With the exception of the death penalty, it stands at perhaps the furthest point of repertoire of sanctions and compulsions available to a liberal democratic state outside time of war” (Sparks et al. 1996:30).

If people don’t begin to take notice soon, the Close Supervision Centre experiment will have travelled too far to reign in…

Kevan Thakrar

Specialist Intervention Unit – HMP Manchester

August 2013


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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 at 5:13 pm and is filed under Prison Struggle.