Thursday, 15 November 2012

Kevan Thakrar - judicial review

Kevan Thakrar’s judicial review was held today in Manchester, challenging 14 specific points which Kevan claimed were breaching his human rights.

A videolink with Kevan at HMP Woodhill was half-heartedly attempted but failed.  Another attempt at lunchtime also, unsurprisingly, failed.

It was clear from the start of the hearing that it was going to be a struggle. Claims of having his privilege mail opened, of delays in getting legal numbers added to his PIN, of restricted access to his lawyers, were met with quotes from the very guidelines being challenged.

It was presumed by the Court that prison officers who “accidentally” open privileged mail will record this in a log, that prison officers found to regularly open privileged mail will be written to – and if necessary “re-trained” in the procedures/guidelines. Then of course there’s the Prison Ombudsman to deal with complaints - so Judge Hickinbottom believed.
Kevan in happier times
So every claim of abuse was responded to with quote after quote from the guidelines – plus of course there was always the fallback excuse of  “operational demands on prison staff”,  restrictions on public resources, “operational matters for the Governor” etc etc.

The pattern continued until the Judgement, which predictably concluded that the Guidance was not unlawful. So every challenge raised was lost as there was “no breach of policy”.

However, the Judge then asked for submissions regarding the 153 allegations made by Kev, who has been in segregation for 2 years.

Flo Klause, Kev’s barrister, said, “the next step is to consider the continuing action.  The Judge found the policies lawful – but if they’re lawful, how is it possible that so many incidents are taking place, why are there so many complaints and why is there a campaign of harassment against Kevan?”

Kevan’s legal team now has to make a submission by the end of January 2013 which will be considered by the Secretary of State.  That is when the real issues will be aired, i.e. the 153 incidents of abuse, mistreatment and abuse of privileges that Kev has suffered. They happened in just a one year period, although the incidents and allegations continue.

Throughout the hearing Kev’s Mum and Dad remained stoical in their own dignified way.  His Dad said the “lawful” guidance may exist, but questioned who actually ensured it was adhered to - that question had not been answered or even addressed.

So the fight is not over for Kev and his family, far from it. This was just one hurdle to get over and we as his supporters must do all we can to make sure they win.  It’s the least we can do.

Please send letters of support:

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE
HMP Woodhill
Tattenhoe Street
Milton Keynes

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

My experience of Close Supervision Centres - Kevan Thakrar

My name is Kevan Thakrar and I write to relate my personal experience of Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) and the torture I have been subjected to in prisons. (More details about my case are available here.)
Kevan Thakrar

After officers sustained injuries at HMP Frankland in March 2010, only a sick individual could imagine the level of violence I sustained. This carried on at HMP Wakefield where I spent 13 days of extreme racial, physical and sexual abuse. After I reported this, I was quickly moved to Woodhill CSC. Psychological torture is extremely painful and, some may say, worse than the physical kind.  Orders are barked and failure to jump high enough leads to further abuse and, often, assault. I have on several occasions not jumped at all, like the time I was ordered to move my toothbrush from one clearly visible point in the cell to another, this resulted in no exercise, shower, phone call, food, library, nothing – behavioural modification skills these ex-army prison officers learned out in Afghanistan, Iraq and other wars.

From all the abuse I have suffered from prison staff, I now have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), resulting in severe anxiety, panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares and constant fear. I have gone through such bad spells that I have been unable to leave my bed for days, as well as having attempted to take my own life on five occasions in the last ten months. 

I am told I require a clinical psychologist to treat my PTSD but ‘none are available’. I therefore have to live an unbearable life, just waiting for the day I am forced to end it, or the staff do it for me and cover it up to make it appear to be a suicide. Either way, I am struggling and need some serious support.

The worst thing is that I am innocent of the crime which I have been imprisoned for in the first place. This resulted in a life sentence of 35 years and I am almost four years into it.

I have been the victim of an unprovoked attack by officers while at HMP Woodhill, resulting in a fractured wrist and six hours in Special Accommodation. I then received a nicking for ‘attempting to commit an assault’ as well as having my unlock level increased and ALL privileges removed.  It’s not the first time this has  happened.

Kevan, after beating by prison officers at HMP Frankland
Close Supervision Centre-Dehumanising, Degrading and Demonising

Prison officials like to claim that the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) exists to remove the most significantly disruptive, challenging and dangerous prisoners from ordinary location and to enable these prisoners an opportunity to develop a more settled and acceptable pattern of behaviour.

The ‘worst of the worst’ designation defines the inhabitants of the CSC as fundamentally ‘other’ and dehumanises, degrades and demonises us as essentially different from other prisoners. It provides an immediate, intuitive and unassailable rationale for the added punishment, extraordinary control and severe deprivation which prevail in the CSC. 

All the discomforts of life in a CSC unit have been brought upon prisoners by ‘our own behaviour’. The Prison Service’s frequent recourse to horror stories about prisoners’ dangerousness also helps to ‘shift’ the blame over anything that happens to us in the CSC onto ourselves. This technique of ‘condemning the condemners’ allows prison workers to further neutralise any criticisms of their policies and practices and to justify, to themselves and others, the harsh treatment of CSC prisoners.

The fact that the design of the CSC is more likely to induce violence than to reduce it is not comprehensible by the corrupt Prison Service management or staff, with whom the temptation is strong to treat us as less than another human being. It is the same process that is brought to bear in wartime – the enemy, soldier and civilian alike, are demonised, and whatever happens to them is of little concern.

Prisoners are more isolated, observed and controlled, afforded less human contact and suffer more sensory deprivation than anywhere in Britain. According to criminologist Anthony Bottoms: ‘to impose additional physical restrictions, especially of a severe character, will almost certainly lead to a legitimacy deficit, and that deficit may well in the end play itself out in enhanced violence’.

So the Prison Service’s claims about the positive impact of the CSC on dangerous and disruptive prisoners are evidently false. It is impossible for any prison trainee psychologist to help CSC prisoners achieve a level to progress to normal location, whilst we are suffering under the conditions of the CSC itself. So why are we here?

Interference with mail

The security department at Woodhill CSC has made itself obstructive in my attempts to contact anyone over the last two and a half years. Mail repeatedly goes missing or is stopped for unlawful excuses; phone numbers are deleted from my PIN and applications to add numbers to call are ignored or rejected; visitors’ approval applications sit for months without any action or are rejected for no reason.

Daniel Guedalla of Birnberg Peirce solicitors issued a letter before action some time ago about this abuse, but the prison didn’t even bother to respond so it seems judicial review is inevitable.

While all CSC prisoners suffer intensely, this particular harassment by security is specific to me. To demonstrate this, I recently received a notice of a stopped incoming letter. The thing about this letter is that it was actually posted by another prisoner in HMP Woodhill. What this means is that the letter is suitable for security checks on one prisoner but not for me. If there was a legitimate issue with the letter, the prison wouldn’t have allowed it out in the first place (all mail must be posted out to Royal Mail and back in, even if it is addressed to the prisoner next door to you!) so I wouldn’t have had cause to complain.

To the many people who have written to me without response, I can only apologise for HMP Woodhill’s corruption. I do respond to all mail which I receive with a return address. If anyone has written without reply, please notify Daniel at Birnbergs so it can be included in my judicial review.

HMP WOODHILL, Tattenhoe Street, Milton Keynes, MK14 4DA

Kevan's case will be heard at the High Court of Justice, Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Bridge St. W. Mancs M60 9DJ, on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 November. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Innocent man convicted under Joint Enterprise in court to fight the abuse of his human rights

The British Justice system is once again under scrutiny. The appeal court has decided that Theresa May is not able to extradite Abu Qatada because his human rights will be abused and torture could possibly be used if he is sent to Jordan. However that same principal of torture and abuse does not seem to apply if it is happening in this country.
Kevan Thakrar
Kevan Thakrar is back in court this Thursday and Friday (14 and 15 November 2012) to serve a Judicial Review against the appeal court that his legal and human rights are being ignored.
Kevan is 27 years old and was convicted under joint enterprise for a triple murder he is not responsible for. He has been held in closed supervision (solitary confinement) at HMP Woodhill for two and a half years where he has been made to endure what he deems torturous conditions. 

While at Frankland prison he was seriously assaulted by the staff who then accused him of attempted murder; a court case was held in which Kev was acquitted but no other staff were prosecuted. Since then, perhaps as an act of vindictiveness on behalf of the staff, he continues to be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment by staff, including severe racial, physical and sexual abuse.

Kevan was and is being denied access to his legal papers to fight his appeal, he is being denied access to his legal advisors as well as his family, friends and supporters. He is not allowed to have his mother’s number on his pin, visitors have to wait months before the prison will process their request to visit him. Visits are held under closed supervision.
His legal post concerning the attempted manslaughter charge brought against him by the Frankland prison officers was continuously illegally opened. Kevan’s case has further implications for all prisoners who rights are being abused.

Kevan’s says that being in CSU is like something out of ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ or bedlam of the Victorian era, although a tie was thrown into his cell recently to help him end his torment. Two sources who have had experience of life inside prison have assured JENGbA this is exactly what these prison officials want; for Kevan to go mad.

Otherwise why would they treat a fit, healthy intelligent and innocent man in such a barbaric way simply because he won a court case against corrupt officers who beat him so severely he was unrecognisable?

Please show your support for Kevan Thakrar:
Write to the prison and demand that this torture stops. Come to the Manchester Court this week and find out exactly how his human rights are being abused. Join other JENGbA campaigners outside the court to support Kevan and his family and demand that the police stop using joint enterprise to convict innocent men, women and children.

Gloria Morrison JENGbA Campaign Co-ordinator. Kevan's case will be heard at the High Court of Justice, Manchester Civil Justice Centre, Bridge St. W. Mancs M60 9DJ, on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 November.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012