For those of you who don’t know, the Tornado team in British prisons is the team responsible for advanced control and restraint techniques, and they usually attend planned interventions dressed in full riot gear such as that depicted above.
I’ve never had to face them myself, but I have witnessed them going into action against others.
The idea of having to kneel with your hands interlocked on your head as they rush into the cell, or else be charged back and pinned under their shields, is intimidating just to think about. To have to go through it is far worse. Especially when you know the state they have left others in previously.
The criminal justice system in Britain often relies upon labels in order to deal with offenders. Individualised rehabilitative treatment is both expensive and time consuming and it is far easier to set a few different standard treatment pathways and then to divide offenders according to easily applied labels in order to determine which pathway would be most appropriate to their treatment needs. However, not only does labelling in this way preclude the delivery of treatment in the most effective way possible (i.e. on an individualised basis), it is also easy to apply the wrong labels.
The problem here is that, just as history is written by the victors, labels ore decided upon and fixed by those in power. An offender is never able to determine their own labels, they are applied externally. Even the term ‘rehabilitation’ itself is a label which (although differently interpreted by each and every individual) is given a fixed, non-negotiable definition by the criminal justice system.
In May of last year I wrote about how I was sacked from my job as a mentor in education without any good reason and was told that I couldn’t have it back despite managing to prove that certain members of staff had conspired to have me removed for dishonest and untrue reasons (you can read that post here).
Eventually someone saw a bit of common sense and I did manage to get back as a mentor, but lately there have been further attempts to move me on.
A couple of mouths ago I was thinking about everything I have lost and everything that has been taken from me over the past thirteen years, and over the last year or so in particular. But one thought did keep coming into my head. No matter what happens. No matter how much I lose. No matter how things turn out with one situation or another or with this person or that. The memories of the good times can never be taken unless I let myself forget them and obsess about the negatives in life instead.
Sure I’ve lost a lot that I care about. And I am bound to lose more still. But I’ll always have my memories of the good times, I’ll always be thankful for them, and it’s because of this that I will never lose my smile.
Prison Service Order on use of force against prisoners is a restricted document, meaning that only authorised staff are permitted to access it. However, there is a redacted version available to prisoners and the public. Over the next three days I’ll be taking a look at the rules surrounding this topic.