UK : Close Supervision Centre expands, by Kevan Thakrar

close supervision unit in Woodhill

 photo Close Supervision Centre at Woodhill

Since I first arrived on the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system in March 2010 I have seen a distinct pattern emerge in the way the system is being operated. All possibilities of the chance to progress back to main location have been removed; even the liars in charge don’t bother to pretend it can be done. Instead prisoners are encouraged to become violent at every opportunity, actually being rewarded with better facilities when this happens, including a 300% pay rise. It has become so blatant to the CSC’s victims that the torture units provide no benefit for anyone on there, that almost all residents have been applying to be relocated to segregation units permanently.

It is due to this policy change, which is obviously not being advertised, that the population on the CSC has doubled in my time with new units springing up all over the high security estate. The highly criticised Exceptional Risk Unit (ERU) at Wakefield has struggled to cope with all the CSC prisoners who have given up dreaming of progression actually trying to be located a space in this hell hole. The new plan is to convert the disused Protected Witness Unit (PWU) at Woodhill into another ERU but without any of the comforts available outside of a Special Accommodation Cell (commonly known as ‘the box’) so extreme levels of brutality are to be expected. This is to ease the pressure of Wakefield so guys who have been sat in the same cell in Monster Mansions should look forward to the change of scenery…

All of this costs money, in fact millions of pounds are wasted every year on the CSC experiment which amounts to around five times what it would cost to maintain the prisoners on normal location. So why is all this being allowed to happen? Maybe because it was actually the current director of NOMS, Michael Spurr, who recommended the creation of the CSC system back in 1996 with the Spurr Report, prior to his rise to become head of this failing justice department.

What all this means is that whilst resources are tight, conditions on main location will continue to deteriorate in order to fund the ever-expanding CSC system. This in turn will lead to more frustration, resulting in more and more prisoners acting in a manner likely to result in their placement in the CSC, which of course will mean more and more money will have to be taken from the pot to fund the CSC experiment. This is exactly how the US Supermax atrocity began, which is actually now coming under so much pressure that it is likely to reduce in size while England holds it up as the pinnacle of imprisonment. Anyone who say the BBC2 documentary screened recently, entitled ‘Life in Solitary’ will have some understanding of what is coming our way, but for those living on a CSC like myself, we do not need the BBS to show us what we experience every day of our lives.

Kevan Thakrar A4907AE, HMP WOODHILL, Tattenhoe Street, MILTON KEYNES
MK14 4DA

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Prison activist and editor. Luk Vervaet is the author of « Le making-of d'Anders B. Breivik » (Egalité=Editions, 2012), « Nizar Trabelsi : Guantanamo chez nous ? (Editions Antidote, 2014), " De grote stap achterwaarts, teksten over straf en gevangenis" (Antidote & PTTL, 2016). He is co-author of « Kim et Ken, mes enfants disparus » (Editions Luc Pire, 2006), « Condamnés à la prison? Ecrits sur un monde caché » (Revue Contradictions, 2008) et « L'affaire Luk Vervaet : écrits sur un interdit professionnel » (Revue Contradictions, 2011).

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