On the 5th of April 2016 the Acting Governor here published a Notice to Prisoners detailing how many prisoners here at HMP Wakefield have progressed to other prisons during the last quarter. She wrote that 3 category A prisoners have been transferred to PIPE units (intensive psychological treatment units), 2 category B prisoners were also transferred to PIPE units, 2 cat B prisoners were transferred to Therapeutic Community prisons (such as Grendon or Dovegate), 5 cat Bs have been transferred in order for them to access offending behaviour programs, 7 cat Bs have been transferred for other progressive reasons, and 3 cat Cs were transferred to category C prisons. During the same period 1 prisoner was recategorised from cat A to cat B, and 11 were recategorised from cat B to cat C. Meanwhile, 3 category B prisoners were released from this prison at the direction of the Parole Board. However, it is what follows these numbers which I dispute and, in my own opinion, is highly dishonest.
“We work closely with other establishments to ensure that those that are ready for progressive moves do so without undue delay.”
Firstly, when the current Governor first arrived at this prison he held a meeting which prisoners could sign up to attend at which he said that “No prisoner should be getting released at Wakefield. What I mean is, if you get released from this prison, we have failed you. You should be able to progress through the system and, when you are ready, be released from a lower category.” And yet, nearly three years later, if you extrapolate their own statistics, there are an average of 12 prisoners per year who have not been helped to progress to more appropriate category prisons, who the parole board have said are a low enough risk for them not only to be suitable for a lower category, but for them to be released altogether.
The fact is, there shouldn’t be any category C prisoners here at Wakefield. This prison is meant to hold only cat A and cat B prisoners. It could be argued that those people who were recategorised from cat B to C will only remain here as a cat C for a short time until they can be transferred. But if they are suitable to be recategorised to cat C, they should have been transferred to an exclusively cat B prison long ago. Furthermore, there are an average of 44 prisoners recategorised from B to C each year, but an average of just 12 transfers to cat C prisons per year By this rationale there is an average annual increase of 32 cat C prisoners who are wrongly located at HMP Wakefield each year! Given that this prison (I am reliably informed) can hold a maximum of 25% category A prisoners, if current trends were to continue there would be more category C prisoners wrongly held here than category B prisoners suitably held here within just 9 years. Perhaps more shockingly, there would be no cat B prisoners left here at all by 2034, with 25% still being stuck as a category A without access to progression, and 75% being wrongfully retained in a high security prison even as a low risk cat C.
However, I resort to these statistics only to highlight how the prison’s own claims demonstrate that a real problem is present. I would far rather use a real life example. An example like a personal friend of mine. This prisoner was released from Wakefield in 2014 (failure number 1 according to the current governor), but recalled later that year. Without going into his personal situation, he proved using documents written by government agencies themselves that he had not done what he was recalled for but, at a parole review which was meant to examine the validity of his recall, he was nevertheless not released. In the wake of this review it emerged that the reports put forward to the parole board by the prison service were “questionable”, and an investigation followed. Meanwhile, he was told that the parole board will never release him from this prison, but not to worry as he has now been recategorised as a cat C prisoner and will be transferred shortly. Yet he hasn’t been. In fact, he has followed this up with every member of staff he can only to be told by some that they vehemently oppose this transfer, by others that they are unwilling to get involved, and by more still that he simply has to accept that he will not be transferred to an appropriate prison prior to his parole hearing – at which, if they are truly never going to release him from this prison, any case he puts forward will simply fall on deaf ears.
The acting governor may well write that they seek to ensure that those who are ready for progressive moves do so without delay, but neither the statistics that they themselves offer, nor the real life experiences of prisoners here, do anything to support that claim.