Sometimes I really have to wonder at the sheer audacity of this place. When the law changed making it illegal to smoke in public places the same rules were applied throughout the prison estate. It was deemed that a prisoner’s cell could not be considered a public space, and they may therefore continue to smoke there, but all other areas of prisons were public and smoking in those areas was therefore prohibited.
This applied to staff and prisoners alike and was instituted across the country. Except at Wakefield. Here staff refused and continued to smoke on site.
Now I am a non-smoker, I don’t like being around smoke, and when I have to be, it does get my back up. Especially given that I can’t just go somewhere else. However, I don’t begrudge smokers their poisonous little habit. If they want to kill themselves that’s their business. For that reason I would never try to stop staff or prisoners from smoking in what have been deemed public areas, even if it is illegal. I wouldn’t complain verbally and I wouldn’t complain formally.
At least, I wouldn’t have before now. Recently the prison inspectors paid a visit to Wakefield and no sooner had they turned up than the governor issued a notice to prisoners (note to prisoners not to staff) reminding everyone that smoking is not permitted anywhere except in your own cell, and certainly not in any public areas. Failure to adhere to this rule may result in disciplinary action.
Staff had obviously been notified too though since they all simultaneously knocked it on the head for a week. But only for a week. Once the inspectors were gone, the smoking started up again.
Now, I’m sorry, but how can anyone expect prisoners to have respect for the rule of law when those who are meant to be setting the example hold the law in contempt? Not only are they breaking the law in continuing to poison public air, they are doing so not in ignorance of it but in flagrant disregard of it. That is proved by the fact that they cover it up when those who would object come to visit!
Do we really want to teach prisoners that they should only obey the law when someone is watching?