Update: On 1st September the Leicester Mercury ran a follow-up article “Woman arrested during prison rooftop protest released without charge.”
Dangerously understaffed and overflowing with inmates… welcome to Britain’s prison system.
Prison funding cuts are now the norm. And the few services that prevent innocent people from being unjustly locked-up, like legal aid, are being scrapped by the Tories. The response from workers has been to engage in both protests and strikes.
Now the latest government attack on equality aims to encourage poverty-stricken people to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit (all to save money); a wicked scheme that has caused many magistrates to resign in protest.
Cuts are certainly being felt locally. Leicester prison, for example, was built to rehabilitate 214 inmates at any given time, but government ‘savings’ mean that 361 humans are packed in, like so many sardines in a tin (March 2, Mercury).
On Friday a lone prisoner broadcast his discontent to the city by briefly occupying the roof of Leicester prison.
As reported in the Leicester Mercury (August 29), a compassionate woman walking by heard the prisoners plea for help and stopped to listen. The passer-by knew all too well about the horrors of incarceration, as her own partner was also locked away behind the prisons foreboding walls.
To save her voice she continued her short conversation from the third storey window of a local house, while members of the local police force ambled around in the street below.
Although the police had politely asked her to wind-up her amicable conversation, she didn’t want to be rude, so chose to first finish her exchange with the distressed prisoner. She even tried to persuade him to end his protest by coming down from the roof.
But amazingly the police mistook her kind-natured heart-to-heart as an incitement to violence. Hence upon the conclusion of her roof-top liaison they roughly cuffed and arrested her “on suspicion of inciting prison mutiny”.
This is a very serious charge, so I can only imagine that the police had previously compiled a comprehensive dossier of the women’s long-standing plans to provoke a prison revolt.
But after I spoke to the kindly resident who hosted the victims courteous chat from his house, he said he’d been assured by the police that “it could be that we drop the charges”!?
It seems that the police took their lead from the Tories wanton abuse of power. As according to the government’s twisted rule-book, freedom of speech is a luxury saved just for the wealthy few, and is not a right for all and sundry.
The Tories clearly think the rest of us should meekly accept their unjust dictates unless we want to be labelled as allies of extremists. So sadly, democratically-mind protesters (and the people who talk to them) are criminalised as mutineers… enemies of freedom no less.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 29th August.