Monday, 31 May 2010

European Group Conference 2005

Just sent off my registration form for the 2010 Conference for the European Group for the study of deviance and social control.  This year its taking place in Lesvos at the University of the Aegean. I first attend the Group's Belfast Conference in 2005 and wrote the report below shortly afterwards. It was originally published on the No More Prison website and republished on their blog earlier today.

European Group Conference 2005 - A personal report

As someone angry about prisons and crime control and hungry to understand as much as possible about the criminal (in)justice system, particularly from a critical perspective I came across details of the conference of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control in Belfast in September 2005 on the internet. The conference appeared to provide space for activists rather than being exclusively restricted to academics so I decided I would attend.

Arriving at a conference where you know no one is a bit weird. Any group of people, particularly one where many individuals have known each other for decades can be intimidating. However I confronted little hostility and after breaking the ice found the group to be very welcoming. (I would advise anyone else considering going along to e-mail the respective national representative - their contact details are on the groups website before going and introduce yourself. They would hopefully get you in touch with other people going and provide initial contacts that would be helpful in the initial hours of the conference.)

My fear on arrival was that the conference would not be relevant to me. The majority (but certainly not all) of the participants either worked or studied at university. Some of the sessions had titles and descriptions that were technical and occasionally a little intimidating. But the conference was as much focused on doing as it was on ideas. Often sessions linked both.

The conference was in Belfast and the content of the conference reflected this. The opening session included a passionate speech by Geraldine Finucane detailing the struggle she and her family have waged to find out the truth of the murder of her husband Pat Finucane, a civil rights lawyer gunned down by Loyalists operating with collusion from the British Intelligence services. A number of the sessions focused on the north of Ireland and on the Saturday we had, in quick succession, a panel discussion with key actors in the peace process and the conflicts that preceded it, a tour of West Belfast hosted by former political prisoners, the screening of a film on the hunger strike followed by a discussion with those involved. The panel discussion was the most impressive presentation I have ever heard from politicians.

Margaret Ward started off explaining the experience of women in Northern Ireland and the perspective of her party, The Women's Coalition Danny Morrison set out the Republican perspective in a remarkably considered way which honestly acknowledged the impact of the troubles on his own and the loyalist/unionist community and was realistic about the limitations what could be achieved in the future. My sympathy has always been with the Republican cause and I awaited David Ervine setting out the loyalist position with distrust. I did David a grave injustice. It was quite simply the most honest and non-sectarian analysis of a situation I have ever heard from a politician. The Peace process presents a difficult and complex challenge for working class Protestants. David Ervine articulated both the psychologically and economically challenges facing his community whose position is the most precarious of any group in Northern Ireland. Unionist politicians like Ian Paisley exploit these fears for political gain but do nothing to address their underlying causes or indeed to represent the interests (economically and politically) of working class loyalists. David' party linked to the Loyalist paramilitary groups has very little electoral impact.

We then set off on a tour around Belfast. Accompanied for the first part by a republican former prisoner we soon saw why it existed as we visited Bombay Street Road. In 1969 a loyalist mob unrestrained by the then unconstructed "wall" had driven the local nationalist community from their homes, injuring many and killing Gerald McAuley, 15, before burning the houses to the ground. My impression of this side of the wall was a disciplined and proud community. High quality murals cover the end walls of terraces as well as hoardings down the Falls Road, giving out a consistent, defiant and internationalist message. The Hunger strikes are remembered alongside support for the Palestinian struggle, anti Brit propaganda alongside support for liberation struggles around the world, and support for (the now released) political prisoners alongside wonderfully cruel caricatures of George Bush.

Particularly notable was a couple of the question of racism. They include a quote from Fredrick Douglass pointing out that the Irish had as well as suffering racism shown a capacity to behave in a racist manner to others. This self-awareness and capacity to see themselves in a critical light characterised for me Northern Irish Republicanism. As we approached a gate in the wall (these can be opened and closed by the police from the safety of their own forts - I use the word "forts" as the only adequate description having seen one!) our Republican guide left the bus.

On the other side our Loyalist guide got on. This side of the wall was in many ways the same but in others dramatically different. The houses looked the same, as did the people. But instead of murals that were works of art the loyalist side had predominately graffiti. Images designed to remind the community of centuries of history were replaced by crude sectarian graffiti. Loyalist Belfast feels scared, ready to lash out, but also resigned to defeat. The Shankill Road was closed for a march of loyalist bands. Watching them marching by was a chilling sight. I asked our Guide about the lack of any visible police presence and was informed that they policed their own events. Indeed it was clear that others on both sides of the wall carried out policing in West Belfast.

Next stop was the Conway Mill community centre where we got to see H3 a film about the hunger strikes in the early 1980's when Bobby Sands MP, and nine of his comrades died in a protest at the removal of political prisoner status. I am normally good at controlling my emotions but I found this film overwhelmingly powerful. At times I was unable to watch the screen and like many others ended the film with red eyes. {Read my full review here} But before I could recover we were introduced to the films writer Lawrence McKeown, and Seanna Walsh. Lawrence McKeown had been the eleventh hunger striker, and in a coma, when the action was called off. For years IRA statements have been issued in the name of P O'Neil, but the recent announcement of the end of the armed struggle had a human face, Seanna Walsh, a former cellmate of Bobby Sands, had made it. Yet again we were involved in dialogue with major actors. Listening to their stories and their responses to challenging questions from conference participants from across Europe was a real privilege. We then had the best food of the conference, cheap wine, passionate debate, local music and a late night.

The theme of the conference was " transition" and I attending sessions covering a wide range of different themes. The format for much of the conference was three different parallel sessions. At each two or three people presented papers followed by group discussions. These sessions often tried to cram too much into to little time with the result that presentations were rushed and there was to little time for others attending to ask questions or make contributions. I attended sessions around the theme of Iraq, Imprisonment, Drugs, Food, Health and Safety and Environmental Crime, Women, and Community Attitudes to crime. All discussions are in English and this obviously presents real challenges for participants whose first language is not English. Overall the quality of the presentations was good. There was a good balance between theory and practice and many applied critical thinking that allowed me to see issues in new ways.

One issue that came up was the use of the concept of "crime" by progressives. On the one hand there was the view that "crime" is a flawed concept and we should be trying to resist and indeed role back criminalisation (e.g. drugs and minor anti social behaviour in working class communities). However others were effectively seeking to extend the definition of crime and the role of law to include war crimes, environmental crime, food crime, health and safety crime and other crimes by the powerful. Criminalisation has historically been used to regulate and control the poor, weak and marginalized. Can the same mechanism be used to protect them and control the powerful?

A second issue that came up for me was the way transition of the former communist countries into capitalist parliamentary democracies had resulted in them replicating the experiences of Western Europe over the last 30 years. Within these countries there appears to be a tendencies to conceive of for example drugs as a new phenomenon. In fact the adoption of policies in the 1990's that the UK had adopted in the 60's and 70's had resulted in the drug markets and cultures developing in identical ways. The only difference being the speed, possibly reflecting the increased speed with which globalisation is currently working.

A third issue was around human rights. This was linked to the idea of a progressive extension of the concept of crime. For example we explored the difficulty of defining "war" crimes. This is not as easy as it seems or indeed many of us would like. Using the UN as part of a definition was problematic given the veto. Israel would in all probability be protected by the US veto. Human rights were offered as a potential alternative route. This was also suggested as having potential in terms of environmental and issues of genocide. I remain unconvinced that any model like this can be effective when in essence its has to be policed by the very people who such laws would be intended to control. The winners of any war are never likely to be held to account.

I think the group should promote itself more to new people. For those of us engaged in resisting prisons or challenging a class based criminal (in)justice system or promoting alternatives to the punitive policies of most governments we need to spend time with comrades, we need it for the energy it can give us if nothing else. I found it incredibly exciting spending time with a group of people who shared my passions and whose knowledge and experience could not but help me further develop my thinking. The conference was informal, no one had titles, status was not an available tool. The European dimension really made this an event; I loved the different perspectives that people from across the continent (and at least three other continents!) were able to bring. With the communication potential of the Internet I know that I will maintain contact with many of them. The conference cost £250 (including accommodation and food) for someone waged. Its not cheap but I believe there is potential to help any activist who can not afford it and there are reduced rates for students, part time workers and the unwaged. One thing I must check up with other participants was the level of interest shown them at Belfast airport. I was subjected to a very thorough search, had my laptop taken away for further examination and myself and my bags "dabbed" for explosives. In the old Belfast this would have worried me given the hands I had shaken over recent days.

Next years conference is in Greece, I certainly intend to be there. But given the healthy rate at which the leaflets for the Prison Abolition Seminar disappeared and the interest expressed I suspect I will be seeing a number of people sooner than that.

More information about the European Group can be found on the website - here

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Angela - John & Yoko's tribute to Angela Davis

Really liked this collection of images used to accompany John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Angela

The relationship between Lennon and American radicals during the late 1960s and 1970s is not particularly well known.  It is well documented in the film The U.S. vs. John Lennon.

The first part of which can be viewed here

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Impressive detail but at its heart a failure to understand Prison: A critical review of the Zahid Mabarek Inquiry Report

Most of the material I am republishing on the No More Prison blog is authored by other people.  However one of today's posting is a review of the Report of the Zahid Mabarek Inquiry I wrote immediately following its publication and which was originally posted on the No More Prison website in July 2006. 

Impressive detail but at its heart a failure to understand Prison:
A critical review of the Zahid Mabarek Inquiry Report

Published on 29th June 2006 the Report of the Zahid Mabarek Inquiry is a weighty document that recounts in detail the prison history of Robert Stewart, Zahid's killer and the management and operation of Britain's Young Offender Institutes. Its 692 pages paint a detailed picture of the day to day reality of imprisonment both in terms of the vulnerable, powerless and damaged people we cage and the violent, lawless, and unproductive regimes they are subjected to. Racism, bullying, endless hours locked up doing nothing, managerial chaos, injustice, endemic self harm, incompetent medical services and much more is carefully documented. But this reality is no great revelation, generations of prisoners have recounted equally horrific accounts of their experiences and even the Governments own inspectorate regularly publish reports detailing one failed prison after another.

Over two hundred years ago the prison missionary John Howard visited prisons and was horrified at what he found. Like every subsequent prison reformer he believed that the abuses and failings he had discovered were the result of poor administration, staff deficiencies, inadequate policies and architectural defects. From Howard to today the grim and painful reality of prison life has not been seen as an intrinsic consequence of prison but as a defect susceptible to an easy fix. The Mubarek Report follows in this tradition with a long list of recommendations it confidently believes will resolve or mitigate the problems uncovered. This is a dangerous illusion. Feltham was no aberration - Imprisonment almost inevitably leads to abusive and violent regimes. That is the nature of prison. If we really want to stop further deaths we need to face this reality, stop trying to reform the unreformable and instead close Feltham and other prisons.
The violence of prison

Zahid Mubarek life ended violently in prison at the hands of another teenager, Robert Stewart. The report into his death seeks to address the problem of prisoner on prisoner violence. It seeks to do this without addressing wider issues of violence within prison.

Prisons exist to punish - they are meant to hurt. Although this pain is primarily intended to be mental rather than physical the very act of imprisoning someone involves deliberately inflicting violence on him or her. Prison reformers, academics and prison administrators tend to try and avoid this reality but those who have to endure prison understand that they are receiving pain and violence as an intended facet of their punishment. Power within prison, both official and unofficial, is based on the capacity to enforce through violence. For example regular strip searches in prisons humiliate and degrade. If resisted they are violently enforced. Earlier this year the Carlise Report on the treatment of children in prisons gave examples which included a 16 year old girl strip searched during her period who had her stained sanitary pad examined in front of her and then given back to her to reuse and a 15 year old boy having to part his buttocks and roll back his foreskin for inspection by prison officers.

In addition to institutional violence daily acts of individual violence occurs throughout the prison. As well as prisoner on prisoner violence, regular staff on prisoner violence occurs, as well as prisoner on staff violence and staff on staff violence. Much of the staff on prisoner violence and some of the staff on staff violence are legitimised by the system and are carried out quite openly. The Mubarek Inquiry team itself uncovered many examples of violence. They report that:
"three white members of staff handcuffed an ethnic minority prisoner on Raven to the bars of his cell, removed his trousers and smeared his bottom with black shoe polish"
Interestingly they add a footnote advising that despite the considerable embarrassment to the prison service and Home Office caused by this racist assault being discovered by the Inquiry the employees involved were not dismissed.

The Carlise Report identified that staff in Young Offender Institutions, and Secure Training Centres regularly used pain compliant techniques to impose discipline on children. These Home Office approved techniques were described in the report:
"using the thumb - fingers are used to bend the upper joint of the thumb forwards and down towards the palm of the hand;
using the ribs - involves the inward and upward motion of the knuckles into the back of the child exerting pressure on the lower rib: and
using the nose - staff use the outside of their hand in an upward motion on the septum."
Staff on staff violence is far more common in prisons than is generally acknowledged. Bullying of staff by colleagues is endemic and violence and humiliation an established ingredient of the training on new prison officers. Again despite not looking for this the inquiry stumbled across:
"two white trainee prison officers urinating on a black trainee during a training course"
This culture, particular during training, ensures that those who staff our prisons are aware of the centrality of violence in their day-to-day work. The Inquiries attempts to address violence between prisoners without recognising either the violence inherent within prison regimes or the daily acts of violence perpetrated by staff on prisoners are doomed to failure.
The Fantasy Prison

Over recent years a massive gap has emerged between the descriptions of prisons by prison reformers, the government, the media, academics and prison administrators and the daily reality of prison as experience by prisoners and front line prison staff. It is important to understand the difference between the "fantasy" prison and the real prison. The fantasy prison is well managed, focused on rehabilitating and educating prisoners, experiences no violence, respects prisoners rights and is characterised by the happy faces of prisoners and staff working together. It has a comprehensive set of policies, actively challenges racist behaviour of staff and prisoners, and produces law abiding ex-prisoners who have seen the error of their past criminality and are committed to living law abiding lives.

Of course no such prison exists except in the minds of civil servants, home office funded academics and prison reform charities. For them reports like those of the Carlise and Mubarek Inquiries by exposing the ordinary reality of prison challenge their imaginary world. The recommendations are important not because they will change the real prison but because by the prison service going through the motions of implementing a number of token 'improvements' it allows prison apologists to maintain their belief in their imaginary best friend - the fantasy prison.

The Mubarek Inquiry report demonstrates the gap between fantasy and reality by its treatment of whistle blowing. This is an important issue. The prison officer culture responsible for so much of the brutality experienced by prisoners (and to lesser extent junior staff) relies on a code of silence. New staff will, early in their career, witness violent assaults on prisoners by their colleagues. Do they ignore them, report them or join in? Reporting will result in the officer being rejected and ostracised by other prison staff. Their allegations may be "disproved" by other staff giving evidence that no assault took place. Their working life will be made hell. Most staff initially try to ignore their colleagues abuses but often this is resented and a situation will be engineered when the new staff member will drawn into an assault and peer pressure exerted. As soon as they succumb they are corrupted by the culture. It only takes a token kick and their colleagues know they are "one of us" and welcomed them into the fold. Those that enjoy the violence become active participants, those who don't try and avoid it but do nothing to stop it. All are contaminated.

The Mubarek Inquiry talks about whistle blowing in the context of policy. It refers to the 1998 Public Interest Disclosure Act and concludes on the basis of paper work:
"The Prison Service has responded to this important statutory initiative in a positive way."
However if the Inquiry had stepped outside the fantasy prison of policy and procedure manuals and had observed the employment Tribunal taking place in Leeds in November 2005 (whilst the Mubarek Inquiry was sitting) they would have found out that whistle blowing in the real prison did not only receive a violent reaction from other prison staff but an equal vicious and nasty response from the Senior Management of the Prison Service. At Wakefield Prison Carol Lingard had reported another Prison Officer for abusing Prisoners. Her complaints were dismissed by management and she was left at the hands of the bullies. The Tribunal was somewhat less impressed than the Murbarek Inquiry in the Prison Service's response to whistle blowing. It awarded Ms Lingard £477,000 damages, a massive award. Ms Lingard left the prison service, a colleague who gave evidence in support of her claim have been transferred to other prison where she faces potential victimisation, whilst the thugs remain, protected by the POA (Prison Officers Association), at Wakefield. The failure to refer to this case or other similar ones is a major and inexcusable deficiency in the Mubarek Report.
Reform doesn't work

Both the Mubarek and Carlise Inquiry reports show details of the violent and abusive reality of imprisonment for children and young people. The picture they portray is not new and similar revelations have been made through Inquiries and autobiographical accounts of prison. The response to these revelations is always a combination of horror - how could things be that bad - and urgent prison reforms "surely we can make things better?"

What is missing is a realisation of the obvious. If the deficiencies and abuses so carefully documented by the pious Prison Missionary John Howard are still occurring why do prison reformers still equally piously claim that the very solution "reform" which has a two hundred year history of failure - is the answer? Surely they must know that the reforms will fail and the abuses continue? John Howard could claim that there was insufficient history for him to have known the futility of his ideas. However that excuse is not available to contemporary prison apologists.

The Mubarek Inquiry Report continually touches on prison reform with no apparent awareness of the history of prisons or penal ideas. It suggests investigation the benefits of mixing older and younger prisoners in blissful ignorance that for decades their separation was advocated by reformers and academics not only essential but potentially as a cure for crime! The reports recommendations relating to the treatment of mentally disordered offenders are not dissimilar to the routine practices and policies in operation a hundred years ago. Like so many before them the Inquiry team time and time again ignore the fundamental nature of prison and suggest administrative and procedural solutions. Often their ideas have in fact been tried in the past and failed. Nothing it seems recycles as well as prison reform clich├ęs.

Prison reformers have started to justify their faith by picking up specific examples of prisons that were far less abusive and violent than Feltham or other contemporary British Prisons. They are of course partly right. Prisons do vary and some can claim to have had regimes that were decent. Maconochie transformed Norfolk Island in the middle of the nineteenth century from a punitive hell into a relatively civilised community. The Special Unit at Barlinne Prison was as Jimmy Boyle's account of it illustrates a serious attempt to deliver a just, constructive and non-abusive regime. Moczydlowski certainly transformed Poland's Prisons between 1981 and 1996. Many of the early open borstals provided decent and constructive regimes.

However equally important to the positive aspects of these and similar examples is that they all proved to be unsustainable. All four saw the positive aspects of their regimes eroded over time and ultimately a return to the brutal and abusive normality of prison. Short-term reforms are possible but in the long term reform simply doesn't work. Those who campaign for it can only do so by ignoring history. They are deceiving both themselves and others. Why?
Race Culture and Faith

The fact that the criminal justice system and all its institutions are racist to the core should be beyond debate. Black, Asian, Irish and other ethnic minority prisoners have through their direct experience testified to this reality. The Mubarek report, despite providing direct evidence of racism displays little understanding of either the nature of racism or its role within prisons. The report seems to suggest that racism has somehow crept into prisons, that it is an aberration that requires an administrative response, a modicum of management commitment and the prison will return to its natural "equal opportunities" status. The Inquiry team admitting they did not have the resources "to determine whether the scourge of institutional racism has now been eradicated from the Prison Service" sums up this naivety. As if!

Keith particularly struggles when having to evaluate the experience of Muslim prisoners. The response of both the state and society to the events of 9/11 and the subsequent moral panics and war on terror have had dramatic impacts on the lives of Muslims living in Britain. Those caged in our prisons have been the most vulnerable. They are isolated, outside the protection of the law, exposed to violence, and defenceless. The report suggests that the experience of Muslim prisoners may be linked to "Islamaphobia in society" and this requires the extension of the Lawrence Inquiries definition of institutional racisms to be broadened to include religious intolerance. Keith however makes clear that this recommendation should not be taken as "suggesting in any way that the Prison Service should be regarded as institutionally infected with religious intolerance". The Report's failure to cast any light on the daily abuse, violence, victimization and brutality experienced by many Muslim prisoners is deeply worrying.

Racism is ingrained in prisons and the people who work in them. Any meaningful attempt to introduce anti racist practice or policies into prisons would cause a backlash from those who work in prison that would make them unmanageable. A modest observation by the Chief Inspector of Prisons that Prison Officers should not wear St George pins saw a vicious media response against "political correctness" despite the reality that every prisoner knew that those who wear them are not only racists but also normally paid up members of fascist political parties.

Going beyond the Mubarek Report.

Those of us who understand that prisons are fundamentally flawed institutions and beyond reform need to be cautious in our welcoming of reports like the Murbarek Inquiry. Whilst we should welcome any light that is thrown on the abusive and violent reality of prison we need to be clear that these reports are also an attempt to legitimise the very institutions that generate the abuses they investigate. This legitimisation must be exposed and resisted

However sensational the revelation of this reports we must stress that they are in fact boringly normal. The racism, violence and abuse is not some aberration, it is the normal reality of prisons. It is not a malfunction requiring reform it is prison. Reform offers the illusion that the racism, violence, pain and abuse can be removed from the prison. It seeks to legitimise prison by offering the possibility, at some unspecified future point that prison will shed these embarrassing characteristics. These are however intrinsic to prison and as history has repeatedly taught us the reforms will fail.

The Mubarek Report is at its heart an exercise in legitimising the institution of the prison. Yes it does confirm the brutal reality of prison that former prisoners have consistently reported. But it perverts this truth seeking to portray it as evidence of institutional malfunctioning rather than the more damming truth that this is simply prison. This deception is necessary to allow the Report to offer up the possibility that these defects are resolvable by implementation of a list of recommendations. This is also a deception. This second deception ensures that the reality exposed in the report doesn't lead to the questioning of the legitimisation of prison. The problems exposed we are urged to be believed can be resolved without us having to consider the possibility of not caging either Zahid Muberak or Robert Stewart.  That is an agenda that Prison Reformers, Home Office Funded Academics and, Prison Administrators are happy to co-operate with. But it will not fundamentally change the racist, abusive and violent institutions that are British Prisons. To achieve that change requires the closure of Feltham and all other Prisons.

Friday, 21 May 2010

No More Prison

Once upon a time I spent a lot of time setting up a website for the organisation No More Prison.  The website (and indeed organisation) have not been active over the last year or so but I was recently informed that its website host was pulling the plug and all my hard work was potentially heading down the plug hole.

So I set up a blog imaginatively called No More Prison to which I am cutting and pasting material from NMP's website.  Using the scheduling feature these are appearing once or twice a day.  So far the following has been posted
All are worth a visit

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Boy George, Malcolm McLaren and the dangers of asbestos

As part of its Eighties Season BBC Two recently showed the excellent Worried About The Boy, a drama about Boy George's life before Culture Club. It available on the BBC iplayer until Sunday and well worth watching - even George likes it!  Douglas Booth  who plays George is perfect in the role.

I also enjoyed Mark Gatiss's portrayal of Malcolm McLaren who died recently. Shortly after his death last month I came across an article by Jeremy Laurance in the Indie which cast light on McLaren's death.
But the image I can't get out of my mind is of the young McLaren, aged twenty-something, full of flair and ambition, smashing through the ceiling of the Sex boutique in the Kings Road he was setting up with Vivienne Westwood. He wanted to create the impression a bomb had hit it. Instead, he released a bomb that hit him.

Life is fragile, we know. You can step off the pavement and be wiped out in a second. A single mistake is all it takes. But this was a case of stepping off a cliff a million miles high – and taking 40 years to hit bottom.

From the moment he swung the sledgehammer, McLaren was doomed. His partner, Young Kim, said it was exposure to asbestos dust in the ceiling of the shop that caused the mesothelioma, cancer of the lining of the lung, that ultimately killed him. More than nine out of 10 cases of mesothelioma are caused by asbestos, so Kim is probably right. It is not like smoking, which takes years of cumulative exposure to do the damage. Even a few lungfuls of asbestos can be fatal. Kim said the shop was "the only place Malcolm ever really spent any serious length of time".
To understand the scale of mesothelioma lets compare it with murder. The number of homicides (murders and manslaughters and infanticides) in England and Wales in 2008/9 was 648 yet in 2008 killed over three times as many - 2,154 deaths. But whilst our newspapers are full of the dangers of crime and the risks we face of being murdered they are silent on mesothelioma and other causes of death that can largely be traced back to the workforce.  As Laurance observes
Deaths from mesothelioma have been rising for decades and are only now peaking – a legacy of our dependence on asbestos 30 years ago. The last press conference I attended on the subject was in 2003. It was, as I reported at the time, a sad affair. There were more experts on the panel – five – than journalists in the audience (three, including me).

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Police accountability

This blog has often highlighted the lack of accountability of police and in particular the failure to hold individuals accountable for violent assaults carried out by those in uniform. It is pleasing to see that there are occasional exceptions.

Last month Pc Jason Hanvey, 37, and Sgt Andrew Kennedy, 51, were convicted of misconduct in a public office after a trial at Manchester Crown Court and were each sentenced to 18 months in jail. The case followed an IPCC investigation into the abuse of a young woman suspect. What is interesting to note is that Harvey had been convicted of assault 12 years ago following a similar attack but was allowed to remain a police officer.

Interesting to note that Greater Manchester Police (GMP) issued a statement in which they assert:

The conduct of Hanvey and Kennedy that day fell well below the standard expected of professional police officers ... However, I want to stress their actions in no way reflect the committed and professional attitude shown by the vast majority of our custody staff.
The culture of GMP uncovered by the Secret Policeman episode of Panorama however showed how racist and unprofessional Greater Manchester Police Officers can be. Well worth watching

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

What Works - Penrose Housing Association

Between 1990 and 2000 I worked for Penrose Housing Association in London who provide ex-prisoners with access to housing and other community resources.  I was really pleased to come across this video which shows the organisation's current work.  Our ethos was always based around respect and it is good to see that this ethos has continued.

Penrose from verena hewat on Vimeo.