Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Prison in Crisis 7

As time marches on it's getting increasingly difficult for Chris Grayling to deny there's a crisis in the prison system, and one that was brought about by him. We know this because a prison governor has been in the witness box giving evidence on oath, as reported here by intrepid local reporter Hardeep Matharu:-
Government "got it wrong" over cuts which led to "mackerel and dumplings" prison rebellion
The Government admitted that it “got it wrong” after introducing reforms to the prison system which sparked a rebellion among inmates at High Down last year, the prison's governor has said. High Down was only the second jail in the country to make cuts mandated by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, a criminal trial into 11 men accused of a prison mutiny and criminal damage heard yesterday.
The men, who were all inmates at the Banstead prison at the time, each deny trying to overthrow lawful authority at the prison last October by barricading themselves into a cell for seven-and-a-half hours. Pyrotechnics were eventually used to startle the inmates after specialist prison officers stormed the cell and restored order to the prison, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.
The governor of High Down, Ian Bickers, told a jury of seven men and five women that the prison had undergone “significant change” in the period leading up the incident. He said High Down was only the second prison in the country to implement a new Government policy, New Ways of Working (NWoW), which aimed to make the prison system more tightly run and meaningful for prisoners by cutting staff, benchmarking and getting rid of prisoner ‘association’ time. But he said that, after it came into effect at High Down in September last year, the Prison Service acknowledged the new regime was not working.
Two weeks ago, the court heard how the defendants passed a “demand note” under the door of the cell during the barricade, which read: “The reason for these capers is we are not getting enough food, exercise, showers or gym and we want to see the governor lively.” Yesterday, the court heard how High Down was 50 staff members down on the date of the alleged incident, on October 21 and 22 - 30 prison officers and 20 operational support grades.
Andrew Jefferies QC, defending, told the court that the prisoners made a number of demands during the barricade including: “If we get mackerel and dumplings we will come out.” Mr Bickers said that the prison does not negotiate or give in to the demands of prisoners: “Whether it’s tobacco, to see the governor, food, gym, mackerel and dumplings we do not acquiesce to the prisoners.” Asked about the demands earlier in the trial, Mr Bickers said the new regime “involved a reduction in the number of staff at prisons and standardisation in the way prisons operate”. 
He said: “Prison governors to some degree have less discretion about what they can do and when. "They follow a standard process and every prison is benchmarked against another. “The core day is 7.30am to 7.30pm. Less prisoners are actively involved in work or education and they spend more time locked up. “As a local prison, we have been asked to provide part-time work opportunities for prisoners.
"Prisoners are at work or education and during the rest of the day they spend time locked up in their cells. "We provide limited time [out of their cells] – one hour of general association to shower or exercise if they are entitled to it, to make phone calls." 
Mr Bickers said prisoners across the prison system had found it “quite difficult” to adapt to the changes. "Up until this time, prisoners would have spent much more time in free association, playing pool or table-tennis, with friends, and that stopped as part of NWoW,” he told the court.
Mr Bickers said there are now no “unstructured activities” for prisoners within the core day and added: "It is a policy driven by central government which has tried to remove the freeness around prisoners to make prison much more purposeful."
The governor told the court that following the introduction of NWoW, the prison saw a “fairly significant increase in complaints” in a number of areas.
The changes brought about by NWoW were compounded, he said, by the prison moving from serving two hot meals a day to one. He told the court this was to do with the number of staff required to serve two hot meals a day and added: "Meal times are very, very potentially inflammatory times. "We replaced it with a packed lunch in their cells.”
Under cross-examination by Mr Jefferies, Mr Bickers said the change introduced at High Down last September “wasn’t a surprise to us". He said: “We spent a long time consulting with staff and prisoner groups. "They were not changes of our making. To some degree they were forced upon us. “On September 1, we were the second prison in the country to go live with NWoW.”
In response to Mr Jefferies referring to High Down as a “guinea pig”, Mr Bickers told the court: “The prison service had tested this in three other establishments during the previous year. “We were going into it with our eyes wide open. We listened and learnt and the changes were made. "We were just in a position on September 1 to make the transition.”
He said prison staff had to get used to a change in their roles: “We were asking prison officers to do less. “Prison officers who traditionally spent lots of time getting prisoners out of their cells were being asked, with less staff, to leave prisoners behind their doors, locked in their cells."
Mr Jefferies read out a list of complaints to the jury which were made by High Down’s inmates leading up to the incident. Mr Bickers said: “It’s a fallacy at High Down that we lock prisoners up and forget about them.” On one complaint referring to the gym being closed, Mr Bickers explained: “Gym was closed because we had to deploy every single prison officer we could to facilitate getting the men out of their cells for phone calls and showers.
“We absolutely always strove that prisoners were out of their cells, subject to operational requirements. “I can’t stand here and put my hand on my heart and say someone wouldn’t have been missed. “But if prisoners choose to stay in bed that’s their choice and I believe in giving a real world choice to prisoners."
He added :“Regimes in prison change all the time. I have never known a stable regime to operate from the beginning to the end of one year. We have to be flexible. “It’s the nature of our business that regimes change. We will absolutely do our utmost to deliver that regime to prisoners. "Happy prisoners mean a happy prison. “But you do have to accept that when significant change happens people become unhappy with that. "The increase in complaints is an outcome of what that might look like.”
Mr Jefferies suggested to Mr Bickers that he was forced to find the best way to govern under a system he could do nothing about. The barrister said: “The reality is that because of the situation, there was no negotiation to be had because you were bound by the cuts which meant that you had to deal with it. “And if the money wasn’t there to have four more staff you had to find a way to best govern your prison to make sure everyone get a share of the gym, library and healthcare, but you’re not a miracle worker. “In effect what was being communicated to prisoners is ‘we can’t do anything, we all have to adapt to it’.”
Mr Bickers said the prison started a process to recruit more prison officers once NWoW was implemented because the Prison Service acknowledged the new regime was not working. He told the court: “Yes, we were going through significant corporate change. Things didn’t work perfectly, things go wrong and not always as you plan. “Though we were the second prison to do this, the Prison Service didn’t quite get our regime right. “They said ‘we are sorry, we got it wrong, we will come and get it right’.”
He said the aim of NWoW has been to ensure a “safe, decent and secure” prison system. “Yes there was a balance to be made as to what was safe, decent and secure,” Mr Bickers told the court. “Providing prisoners with the opportunity to talk to family and to shower is decent. Is going to the gym absolutely imperative to keep prisoners alive and safe? No. “We have to make a decision that we are going to close the gym as we need to get 190 men out of their cells for showers. "The priority has been for showers and phone calls." He added: "In October, we were trying to implement something which was done wrong by people in headquarters.”
Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons continues to highlight the dangers, as reported here in the Guardian today:-  
Surge in violence at Elmley jail lays bare prison crisis
A shocking inspection report detailing a 60% rise in violence and 11 “mini-riots” in 11 months at an ordinary local prison in Kent has revealed the depths of the prisons crisis facing the justice secretary, Chris Grayling. Extra temporary staff were immediately drafted into Elmley jail on the Isle of Sheppey after a report by Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, revealed that urgent action was needed to stabilise the prison.
The “very serious” situation at Elmley comes after Grayling told MPs on Monday that prison staff had monitored – and listened in to some – confidential phone calls between prisoners and at least 32 sitting MPs between 2006 and 2012. The justice secretary apologised to the Commons for the routine recording of confidential phone calls, which included “in a handful of cases” calls between inmates and their lawyers. Grayling has asked Hardwick to investigate the extent of the breach of confidentiality involved.
The chief inspector’s report, published on Wednesday, says that Elmley, which has 1,252 men packed into cells meant for 985, is, like many other jails in the south-east of England, struggling to deal with the pressures created by large-scale staff shortages. There have been five suicides at the jail in the past two years.
“This inspection revealed very serious concerns. At the heart of the prison’s problems was a very restricted and unpredictable regime,” says Hardwick. “Association, exercise and domestic periods were cancelled at short notice every day. We witnessed many examples of prisoners being turned away from education and work because prison officers were not available for supervision. About 15% of the population, or almost 200 men, were unemployed and they routinely spent 23 hours a day locked in their cells.”
The inspection in June found that 200 prisoners were being held three to a cell designed for two, while 416 were doubled up in single cells. While levels of violence at the jail were comparable to those at similar prisons, they were deteriorating quickly: “The overall number of fights and assaults had increased by 60% over the past year and the trend was upwards,” Hardwick reports. “Over the previous 11 months there had been 11 acts of concerted indiscipline when prisoners had refused to return to their cells. There had been none in the 12 months before that.”
Hardwick says that while the inspection team was inside the jail, plans were being made to introduce a much more restricted regime the following week until temporary staff could arrive to relieve the pressure. Michael Spurr, chief executive officer of the National Offender Management Service, said that 23 temporary officers were deployed to Elmley the week after the inspection enabling a fuller regime to be introduced: “Permanent recruitment is under way and Elmley will continue to receive support from other prisons until vacancies are filled to ensure that the prison can continue to operate properly and safely at all times.”
However, prison reformers pointed to two other reports, on Brixton and Bristol prisons, published by the independent monitoring boards on Wednesday that confirm that such staff shortages are endemic across the south of England. Bristol is described as being at “bursting point” while at Brixton the staffing levels “ignore the needs of running the prison safely and humanely”.
Meanwhile, it's reported that the MoJ have prevented Sodexo from talking to local councillors about the situation at HMP Northumberland:-
Chiefs at firm running 'tinderbox' HMP Northumberland 'snub' councillors
Chiefs of a Northumberland prison have come under fire for “snubbing” local councillors after a spate of serious incidents. Sodexo’s head of operations Mike Conway was due to answer councillors’ questions about HMP Northumberland, in Acklington, this week. Northumberland County Council’s scrutiny committee set up a meeting to probe a series of incidents at the Category C jail, including a stand-off between officers and inmates in March and the discovery of a large stash of class A drugs last month, but the company decided not to go.
Sodexo says it is trying to organise a meeting with council representatives but chose not to go after speaking with Chris Grayling’s Ministry of Justice. A Sodexo spokesman said: “After consultation with the Ministry of Justice, we turned down a request to appear on the local overview and scrutiny committee formally. “However, we have extended an offer to brief the local authority on our activities at the prison. We have not received a response.”
Northumberland county councillor Scott Dickinson, said the move is unacceptable. It comes after people working for the prison and probation services spoke out about safety at the jail, which has seen staffing levels fall dramatically, with one prison officer describing the jail as “like a tinderbox”.   
The picture is the same everywhere. Napo Greater London Branch recently issued a press release detailing the situation in one of London's biggest jails, Worwood Scrubs:-
Today a Napo member who works as a probation officer in London reported the following experience. 
I went to see a lifer at HMP Wormwood Scrubs (The Scrubs) who was recalled in my absence. This was no surprise as it was clearly on the cards. I knew he had relapsed back into drug use and we were attempting to deal with it in the community. However a new offence came to light and it was decided to recall him for this.

While I was at The Scrubs I was told that the prison is now operating under an ‘Emergency Regime’. There are simply no offending behavior programmes running whatsoever, that is no Narcotics Anonymous meetings, no support, a very small amount of drug and alcohol advice.

My client told me that someone was stabbed on a wing last week and following a ground search for the weapon a large package containing a number of weapons were apparently discovered - basically a lot of knives!!

The situation at The Scrubs is that most of our local gang boys are either serving sentences or being recalled to prison where they are now carrying on their feuds on the prison wing. With nothing to do all day - just engage your imagination here – the prison is in danger of spiraling out of control.
My client told me that The Scrubs has become a very dangerous place. He said that there is a noticeable lack of staff, no rehabilitation programmes, no education, you name's not happening. What is happening though is increased levels of violence and rising levels of fear.

The situation with the Offender Management Unit is also of concern. If they are unable to complete their work with prisoners then there could be delays in either prisoner transfer or release which adds to existing tensions. Again the staffing ratio is dangerously low and they now have the added pressure of being asked to escort inmates around the prison. This used to be a prison officer's role due to the obvious safety concerns that exist but there are simply too few staff now.

I felt quite uneasy, as I was leaving the prison walking through the courtyard, if there were to be a major disturbance at The Scrubs, it will not be pretty. And Mr Grayling talks about improvements and opportunities in the resettlement prisons such as The Scrubs....dream on! The Scrubs is just a warehouse for prisoners....I’m sure there are now better facilities and care at Battersea Dogs Home than at The Scrubs. This is a national disgrace in a so called civilized society!”
In all this mess there is one bit of good news though. Chris Grayling has backed down on the book ban, as reported here in the Guardian:-
Prisoners’ book limit scrapped
The cap on the number of books inmates can have in their cells has been scrapped following pressure from a campaign backed by leading literary figures. Prisoners are now allowed to keep more than 12 library books in their cell, at the discretion of prison governors, HM Prison Service said. The move follows months of campaigning from the likes of the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as well as Booker prize-winning novelists Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan. But a ban on sending books into prisons remains in place and charities behind the Books for Prisoners campaign have vowed to fight on until the policy has been fully reversed.
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, which is leading the campaign along with English PEN, said lifting the cap on books allowed in cells was an encouraging step. “This is an important victory for our campaign. It is encouraging that the government has recognised the important role that books can play in rehabilitation,” she said.
“But the campaign does not stop here. Petty and counter-productive restrictions on sending books and other essentials to prisoners remain in place, and calls for the Ministry of Justice to fully reverse its policy are only getting louder against a backdrop of ever more overcrowding, growing unrest and an alarming rise in the number of suicides behind bars.”
The campaign – which is also backed by writers Joanne Harris, Mark Haddon, Salman Rushdie, Alan Bennett, David Hare, Jacqueline Wilson, Kazuo Ishiguro and Kathy Lette – continues to call on the Prison Service to allow relatives to send their loved ones books, underwear and other “essentials”.
Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said: “Lifting this restriction is a positive step, but it does nothing to solve the underlying problem: how do prisoners get the books in the first place? “Access to prison libraries remains extremely limited, and the ban on family sending books directly to inmates is still in force. The Ministry of Justice must urgently rethink its incentives and earned privileges policy."


  1. The prison crisis, and its a very serious crisis indeed when the governor of a prison has to remove a hot meal from the daily food provision because theres not enough staff to supervise it being served, (access to library????), is all brought about by Grayling ignoring vast amounts of evidence from professional people in favour of his own gut feeling!
    He's applying that same approach to probation services, his own gut feeling in favour of any empirical evidence!
    The truth is, the problems being experienced in the probation service at this present time are only the begining, and a year or 18 months down the line the service will be just as broken and chaotic as the prisons are now.
    It's time the P.M got a grip of Grayling, who he can't be best impressed with at the moment having being emmbarresingly called away from the lord mayors banquet the other night to vote on the EAW, after Grayling and May caused uproar in the commons, and tell him its time to stsrt doing things with your NUT and not your GUT!

  2. I am feeling very uneasy about the prisons generally. People being detained in Seg, when no current need or evidence to support it, no answers when the Parole Board ask for clarity; people being held on open ACCT's (suicide/self harm concerns) 18 months after the last episode and prisoner on prisoner assaults not being investigated properly; the issue being tossed between prison authorities and the police - with no outcome. Also, unaccounted for increases (doubled) in people methadone, even after 2 years of continued, albeit small reductions, why? You cannot get anyone to be accountable for such practices..and the other day, I would bet my next months salary on a prisoner not coming to a PSR interview, because there wasn't the staff to bring him form the seg! I am hearing from HMP staff that the drug workers are now wearing white coats; aka those issuing prescriptions and educators, dressed in riot gear! It's a massive gamble the SoS has taken and as usual he is NOT listening. I even fell sorry for that Governor, Mr Bickers, trying to defend something, even he finds intolerable.


  4. This may sound mad, but is there not some way to have a collective campaign to get CG out?!! Seriously, this man is such a megalomaniac- definition - delusional fantasies of power, omnipotence, inflated self-esteem- he should not be in charge of any justice system. He is HIGH RISK. He has gone beyond normal ambitions to be the bees knees, this man is VERY DANGEROUS. He must clearly know what he is doing, He is lying about blatant evidence, and there is no doubt at all, that because of his egotistical pursuits to gain total power, there will be deaths and rebellion..

    There are organisations who circulate petitions on e-mail - Change,org and 38 degrees, which identify situations which might not otherwise reach the masses. - I sign loads, and many have successfully brought about change. And there are also empathetic investigative reporters etc etc. This mad man needs to be withdrawn asap for the safety of the country. Until now, we have tried to tell people about how the changes will affect the community etc, but we have never highlighted CG aka Hitler/Jong Un, as being the biggest danger. and no one, not Cameron, not his minions in the MOJ, not the opposition,not his own party, not the Lords, not the community, not the judiciary, not the police, are making any attempts to restrain him. Where will it end? Be very afraid.

    1. I am I hate the man.

  5. Governor Bickers, in evidence, actually stated:

    “We were asking prison officers to do less.“Prison officers who traditionally spent lots of time getting prisoners out of their cells were being asked, with less staff, to leave prisoners behind their doors, locked in their cells."

    It is beyond belief that prison officers are being asked to do less! What kind of regime is it that wants less engagement between prison officers and inmates? And this is called New Ways of Working.

    This merely creates an environment where the inmates are restless and frustrated and the staff are bored. If this treatment was meted out to animals there would be welfare issues. There is nothing more likely than a unstimulating environment to bring out stereotypical and purposeless behaviour. I hope the jury deliver a perverse verdict.

    1. prison officers are little more than enforcement/containment/escort officers nowadays.

      It's sad that people come out of those establishments sometimes in a worst state than when they went in. the main problem my newly released men are telling me is that they are sharing cells with people who are mentally ill and/or violent. There seems to be little profiling to ensure, as far as possible that at least people feel safe inside.

      What a tragedy that somebodies child goes into custody and comes out in a wooden box. Families should collectively sue the SoS for failure to provide adequate care.

    2. As an offender with over 30UIi years interaction with probatiion service,I view probation as just an extension of law enforcement.
      Any care there used to be is long ago changed to control.
      Don"t wish to be rude, but thats how us in the basement see it.

  6. There are a number of articles (and letters) that may be of interest in this months 'inside time' the prison newspaper.
    Heres a link.


  8. Off topic, but this latest government outsourcing contract just beggers belief.

  9. We are at the mercy of an utterly corrupt state, at every level corruption oozes out. The state or the government is elected by the people and should serve the interests of the people well that aint happened for 30 years. No they are too busy trying to cover up the sexual abuse scandal and making their mates rich. The government said today re the 4ex currency rate fixing scandal, that the billions pounds of fines the four banks now have to pay proves that the clean up of the banking system is working. They are totally mad, they say the most ludicrous things and they get away with the bollocks. Remember the prison system is not in crisis, well tell that to the person who was cut down (ligature)today in the prison I work in.


  10. off topic but Jim why does South West Trains wi fi block access to your blog ? , apparently you are unsuitable material !

    1. Ha Ha , same in a school library where I am a governor - like to keep up to date with "on probation blog" and get a kick back from provider ....surely the kids should know the truth!!


      'We want to make your Wi-Fi experience as effective as possible, but as this is a public service within the on-train environment you should not try to access any sites which could be deemed as inappropriate or offensive. In addition, and in order to provide a reliable Wi-Fi service to all who use it, users will not be able to use the Wi-Fi system to watch catch-up TV (e.g. BBC iPlayer, ITV Player etc), download very large files, access Video sharing sites (e.g. YouTube) or for file sharing (e.g. BitTorrent).'

  11. PRIVATE EYE No 1379 Page 34, a must read entitled CRIME PAYS
    "So much for justice secretary Chris Grayling's claim that the voluntary sector is at the forefront of his £500 million sale of the probation service: one of the biggest winners is a company, run by an influential Tory Peer, which was itself caught breaking the law in a bid-rigging scandal."

    1. The whole article is here: -

  12. Reading this blog while watching a documentary about the fight for equal rights in 60s deep south USA. Nothing happens without naming the wrongs of the powerful. Feeling further inspired to continue the fight against TR. Roll on JR!

  13. I am noticing a lot of banner ads for the Probation Graduate Diploma these days, on all manner of websites - I think it can only because I spend a lot of time reading this blog!

    1. i got that as well, that was wierd

  14. @ML 11:02

    How about NAPO saying, officially, that they do not feel that it is safe for OM's to visit prisons any longer? There are reports after reports after reports to validate their views. I would imagine that the Press would love something like this and it would be HIGHLY embarrassing for Grayling, possibly fatal (barring a stake through his black heart).

    Imagine the shitstorm this would cause!

    Come on Ian, we all know you read this blog, it's an open goal for NAPO and would be critically undermine Grayling at such a crucial time when his credibility and impartiality is being questioned.

    1. Now that would make a lot of sense. Maybe this could be done under health and safety? maybe even a press release to highlight the current level of concerns which officers are likely to experience.

    2. I'm not sure if any H&S reps read this and feel willing enough to comment? I must say that visiting my local prison in Northumberland is at times a scary experience due to the lack of staff on the wings.

    3. Excellent idea on H&S grounds ...difficult to argue with

    4. Appears we may have a winner. Ian Lawrence, over to you now. I think it's about time we copied Graylings tactics and fought dirty. I think that you would renew a sense of optimism in the workforce if they saw we were now fighting back on several fronts.

      Any NAPO H&S safety reps out there who can or will look further into this possibility, especially in Northumbria?

    5. A rep can only act when contacted by their branch member(s) so members need "to look further into this " in their areas.

    6. we presumably would need our colleagues who work each day in prison to withdraw?


    1. Graylungs a prick, a bully,and very unintellegent.
      As with all untellegent bullies, once you land one on the nose, they suddenly get an interest in geogrophy and go away.
      Hes abusing peoples moral fibre, feeling certain no-one will stoop as low as he does.
      Get on his level, after all, thats the battle field hes called.

  16. Paul McDowell, the chief inspector of probation is an absolute tosser. A person who can't even see the conflict of interest should not be in post. He needs to do the right thing and resign with dignity.

    1. Dignity.

      I'm afraid that was sold a long time ago.

  17. Anagram

  18. Paul McDowell is a gift to anti TR.
    Until you can establish if or if not a conflict of interest exists, then you can't establish the competence of assessment on TR that the HMPI has provided.
    He may have not highlighted serious concerns because he was aware that his wife stood to make considerable profit from his silence.
    Until such a time an inquiry detemines those facts TR needs to be put on hold.

  19. thanks - 20 17, for picking up on my comment - 11 02, about the high risks of harm this man is causing to the public, to staff and to offenders within the prison system and the community. (I thought people might think my suggestion was a step too far!)

    H&S is a great way to go - certainly the immediacy of the problem is within the prisons, but this could be expanded to highlight the risks to staff in offices, and the risks to the community as a result of some offenders not being supervised/going missing, and being risk assessed with no background info - not because of incompetent staff, but because of changes in IT and other processes, or IT systems not even working- because of CG demolishing what was thorough, reliable and working well, and replacing with a system which would be a farce if it wasn't so serious.

    We have already had staff die, by own hands or 'natural' -but in one case may well have been aggravated by the stress of working in a well publicised prison in my area, Nbria. I hope this does not sound facetious, but at this relevant point in time,let us not forget the fallen.

    Let us all rally together, and be counted, thousands of us, those that are in the middle of it, and those who have escaped the clutches, regardless of status, prisons and probation, from admin to CO's, I challenge you, because surely no one can be happy with the system they are working in,,and make our communal voice so loud, the powers that be CANNOT ignore us! And perhaps the voices of those banged up to the point of exploding, might only strengthen the argument..

    Can Harry Fletcher offer any advice? - he is a committed ambassador and campaigner with a wealth of experience in working with influential people. and in influential places.

    1. Please do not use GB's death as a weapon in this forum. The only time the great man got stressed recently was with local napo's insistance on critising his prison without asking him for his opinion. As he was wont to say "shut up you lunatic".

    2. To anon ML Safety or risk to it from TR reforms IS basis of Napo JR already.

    3. with respect, to anon 6 38 - I did not name or use initials to identify anyone. It is not in my nature to make shallow use of such a sad event to prop up an argument and I apol if I have upset anyone. I too have respect for this colleague.

      I wondered if stress did have an impact, as has been mentioned in these comments by others, and one who actually named the officer. But there have been other deaths too, who people have also speculated on. And their colleagues must be equally upset.

      And please don't call me a lunatic, I am angry and frustrated, and incredulous that this man is being allowed to rant on, with no reining in, and heartbroken when my ex-colleagues talk and write to me about their despair. I fear for the job which I loved enough to work excessive hours for years, to give my best, as did and do, many others. But, unless that is being crazy, I am not mad.

    4. to 8 06 - yes I agree, that was the basis of my argument when I wrote the blog 'Shakespearean Tragedy or Comedy?' last month, but as I pointed out in my first comment at 11 02 yday, there is another burning issue running alongside the current chaos of TR, caused by CG, and that is - the man himself. He needs to be kicked out, or at least curtailed as he is a wrecking ball who is swinging around recklessly, coming up with crazy irresponsible new amendments to the justice system, almost on a daily basis. He has had his fun and he needs to go, ALONG with his TR toy.

  20. From Guardian - Chrisis Grayling & IPPs:

    "And while Grayling’s pace is quickening, perhaps he should do what so many peers from all sides of the upper house urged him to do in a recent debate and end the torment of the thousands of prisoners detained many years after the terms the courts decreed. This problem was not of his making: the prisoners concerned were given an indeterminate sentence of “imprisonment for public protection” (IPP), brought in by David Blunkett when he was home secretary in 2003.
    IPPs were scrapped in 2012, basically because they were unworkable. Prisoners had to complete offending behaviour courses before release and the courses were simply not available in the numbers required. When they were abolished, parliament gave Grayling, the lord chancellor, the discretion to speed up the release process. He has not done so. Nor has he explained why not.
    In July Lord Lloyd of Berwick tabled an amendment to the criminal justice bill asking Grayling to exercise his discretion. In the ensuing debate, peer after peer condemned Grayling’s inaction. Lloyd obtained figures on those in custody who were ordered to serve short minimum tariffs.
    Here is what he said to the upper house: “Eight of these prisoners with whom I am concerned were given tariffs of less than three months. Twenty-two of them were given tariffs of less than six months; 27, tariffs of less than nine months; 64, tariffs of less than 12 months; 88, tariffs of less than 15 months; 114, tariffs of less than 18 months; and 327 of them, tariffs of less than 24 months. That makes 650 in all. The current assessment in relation to 500 of those 650 prisoners is that they present a very low or, at most, a medium risk of reoffending. The question arises as to how that can possibly have been allowed to happen. Those 650 are still in prison six, seven or even eight years after they completed those very short tariffs. How can that be justified?”
    In answer to the minister’s refusal to intervene in these sentences, Lloyd said: “My lords, I regret to say that I do not find the minister’s reply satisfactory in any way, no more than it was on the previous occasion. I do not intend to deal with any of his arguments, save just to mention one. He criticised the amendment on the grounds that we would be bypassing the discretion of the lord chancellors, but that is the whole point of the amendment. The lord chancellor has declined to exercise that discretion, so it is up to us now to exercise it in place of him. That is the purpose of this amendment.”
    Lord Ramsbotham, former chief inspector of prisons, told peers that the IPP issue “amounts to nothing less than a stain on our national reputation for observing the rule of law”.
    Will Grayling be saying sorry to the 3,600 prisoners trapped in this cruel bureaucratic mess? They are currently being released at the rate of about 400 a year. Which means it will be nine years before those 3,600 will be out of prison. Is Grayling quickening his pace and using his powers to hasten their release?
    Don’t bet on it. Righting wrongs done to prisoners clearly comes a long way behind soothing the tender feelings of his parliamentary colleagues."