The prison system is by design, racist. Everyone who has ever had any contact with it knows this to be a fact, but it is not something which is ever admitted by those who operate it. That was until the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) on Wednesday 16th November 2022, conceded the position in anticipation of the damning judgement which was sure to come that day in the Central London County Court in response to litigation I had been forced to bring.
Following false allegations being made against me by racist and corrupt prison employees at HMP Frankland in March 2010, I was transferred into what is known as the Close Supervision Centre (CSC) system. The CSC is effectively a prison within a prison, supposedly created to house only the most dangerous men serving a prison sentence which back then amounted to less than 30 prisoners, although is now double that amount. In November/December 2011, I was proven to be innocent of the malicious allegations against me with HMP Frankland being exposed as the brutal, racist and corrupt institution it is throughout the trial in Newcastle Crown Court to the extent that the then Governing Governor of the prison had no choice but to resign in disgrace. Unsatisfied with this result, those public servants running the CSC conspired to recruit some of the most despised men in the CSC to subject me to a campaign of discriminatory harassment, abuse, threats, and assaults.
From 2012 at HMP Woodhill, the discrimination began. The first recruit was the woman killing rapist, Daniel ‘Danny’ Walker, who had come to the CSC from the Vulnerable Prisoner (VP) wings where he had sought protection due to the nature of his crimes and had foolishly participated in an intended compensation scam resulting in his co-conspirator being too severely injured and blaming Walker. This scumbag was rewarded with extra privileges, such as bonus payments, tobacco, and significantly extra time out of his cell in return for the harassment he directed at me. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) were particularly critical of HMP Woodhill, the CSC, and their lack of investigation into the blatant discrimination let alone the total absence of any form of sanction for it. The recommendations the PPO made were supposedly fully accepted by the prison system which would have put an end to the campaign, so obviously they were instead ignored.
At about this time, the management of the CSC fell under the remit of Richard Vince, now the Executive Director of the Long-Term and High Security Estate (LTHSE), who quickly appointed his wife, Georgina Vince, as the forensic psychologist with the responsibility of overseeing the psychological approach applied within the CSC and to the CSC prisoners. For me, this meant psychological warfare intended to break my spirit to be majorly applied by the collaborators recruited from the ranks of the most despicable CSC prisoners. The Vinces, along with a few other senior officials within HMPPS, initially conspired to have me illegitimately sectioned under the Mental Health Act but upon being told that their efforts to break me had not caused me to develop a major mental disorder which could be said to justify such a transfer, supercharged the discrimination campaign obviously with the hope of eventually achieving this aim.
I was sent to HMP Wakefield, specifically within their CSC Exceptional Risk Unit (ERU) which is only supposed to hold the 8 most dangerous prisoners in the country. This relocation made no sense to me at the time, as the verdict of the court as well as an expert report had by then given clear directions that I did not fit the criteria for the CSC, let alone the CSC ERU; but the CSC management knew exactly what they were doing. Although each prisoner within the ERU is kept in solitary confinement, the ability to pass others locked behind metal bars or within cages exists, as well as communication being possible out of cell windows. Not everyone wanted to get out of these cages like I did, some were desperate to stay locked in them for their own safety having perpetrated unforgiveable acts upon other prisoners for which they know payback is certain to come however long it must wait. As well as being extremely psychologically vulnerable due to the impact of detention within the CSC, their fear of reprisals made them easy to manipulate by those running the system and so turning them into weapons to be used against me was not difficult. The thousands of case papers which later emerged from this litigation illuminated both why they were desperate, and what this desperation amounted to.
The worst of these collaborators were:
- Clifton ‘Yankee’ Jeter, a confused Black man who was born in Liverpool but grew-up within an American army base in Germany once his mother had formed a relationship with a Puerto Rican soldier in the US army. He had been one of the most vocal members of the extremist Islamophobic gang within prisons who call themselves ‘the piranhas’, and although he had never actually physically attacked a Muslim, he had sought protection from the reprisals he knew were coming his way (for the vile discriminatory abuse he had been shouting-out from within the isolation of his locked cell) when he applied to become, and was accepted as, a VP while in the segregation unit of HMP Long Lartin of 20111. Eventually his fear of reprisals led him to what was then known as the Managing Challenging Behaviour Strategy (MCBS) Unit in HMP Woodhill where he was allowed to mix with only a few prisoners at a time, enabling him to coerce another prisoner into giving him oral sex within the showers purportedly as payment for the protection of the piranhas;
- Jason Gomez, a racist extremist who had fled main location after running-up a major drug debt in 2014, and subsequently fled the VP wings in HMP Full Sutton for the same reason in 2015, then committed a random murder at HMP Swaleside upon the prisoner who appeared the most frail and weak that he could find along with his racist co-defendant, Paul Wadkin, seeking the safety of the isolation that the CSC brought him;
- Douglas ‘Gary’ Vinter, a double murderer and attempted rapist with a natural life sentence from Middlesborough. He had sadistically made false allegations against the teenage son of the second woman he had killed and attempted to rape after dragging her out of a pub by her hair and taking her to his mother’s nearby bungalow where he stabbed her to death. He caused the boy to be remanded to prison and put on trial for threats to kill that he had never made, only to later laugh about not only setting him up with his lies but also killing his mother when he was challenged at the boy’s criminal trial2. He had been run-off of the wings and taken to threatening to attempt to murder the most high profile prisoner he came across if forced to mix again, Roy Whiting being the last one he got to within the VP units;
- Charles ‘Bronson’ Salvador, the 5 ft 6 former Muslim who calls himself Britain’s most notorious prisoner. He had been responsible for the creation of the CSC having taken the art teacher hostage and smashed-up what was called the Special Unit at HMP Hull, where he had been located following a repeated refusal to locate in multiple prisons after committing a disgusting rape upon another prisoner at HMP Long Lartin which became common knowledge among all long-term prisoners due to his boasting;
- Like these 4, the other collaborators are all racist and Islamophobic with at best questionable histories which often contain acts of sexual deviance and/or allocation to VP units, many of whom came to join the fascist CSC gang who call themselves ‘death before dishonour’, ‘DBD’, ‘424’, or the prison wide gang ‘the piranhas’. All received preferential treatment for performing the dirty work and thought nothing about selling-out to the system to meet their own selfish needs.
As well as shouting racist and Islamophobic abuse at me on a daily basis, I was also repeatedly subject to threats to kill and/or sexually assault me as well as being spat at and having excrement thrown at me3. This discriminatory harassment also included the targeting of my visitors who were made to see me inside the ERU, with even my grandmother being racially abused and threatened with rape and murder by these nonces despite being a wheelchair bound woman in her 80s. It is important to recognise that none of this was done discretely, the culprits wanted their bosses to witness their work and so all of this occurred in front of the prison officers, including on occasion governors, who did nothing but revel in their handiwork.
After 2-years of this harassment, I was finally returned to HMP Woodhill CSC Unit only to be joined there the same day by Daniel Walker. Along with various other racist extremists who were located there including Jordan Palmer who had murdered a Muslim prisoner in HMP Peterborough, and Martin Fieldhouse who had been shouting racist abuse from within solitary confinement for years, they continued the discrimination and even exchanged letters with their DBD gang to plot what to do and how to obtain the greatest reward from the prison for it.
Following multiple other transfers, and a never-ending campaign which even led to an attempt on my life within the CSC unit of HMP Full Sutton4, which was facilitated by the whole staffing group there after the culprit discussed his plan with them in advance to do this, a legal challenge became the only way I was going to obtain recognition for what was happening and potentially bring about change. The MOJ designated the CSC Operational Manager to be responsible for instructing the Government Legal Department (GLD) to defend the case, who then chose to cause the process to be dragged-out as long as possible while persistently refusing to engage in any form of alternative dispute resolution and repeatedly ignoring Court Orders. I can only assume the intention was to maximise the duration the discrimination campaign would continue against me before the conclusion of the litigation.
Eventually, the case was won and Judgement was entered in my favour on 17th August 2022 which accepted the full-facts as listed within my particulars of claim as being true and accurate. In summary, what this means is that the MOJ was found to have:
- ‘failed to take steps to protect [me] from inhuman and degrading treatment…;
- failed to take steps to protect [my] emotional and physical integrity…; and
- failed to carry out any or any proper investigation into the abuse [I] suffered…’
Within these elements of the case were further more detailed findings demonstrating systemic failures including that the MOJ:
- ‘Knew…that there was a real and immediate risk that [I] would be subjected to:
- Inhuman and degrading treatment;
ii. An unjustified interference with [my] emotional and physical autonomy; but
- Failed to take steps, within the scope of its powers… to avoid that risk.’
The factors which were proven which evidenced these systemic failures included that the MOJ:
- knew that the culprits ‘…had a propensity for violence and racist and/or religiously motivated abuse…’;
- ‘was aware of the DBD gang’s existence’;
- ‘placed [me] in cells where it was known that [I] would be at risk of racial and racist and religiously motivated abuse from other inmates’;
- ‘failed to move prisoners who were abusing and harassing [me]’;
- ‘failed to put in place any or any proper deradicalization process for extremist prisoners’;
- ‘failed to make alternative arrangements for [my] visits’;
- did not ‘take steps to prevent the DBD from operation’.
Discrimination was also proven as I was subject to less favourable treatment evidenced by the fact:
- ‘[I] was subject to abuse and harassment by other prisoners either wholly or in part because of [my] ethnic origins and/or the fact that [I] am Muslim;
- The [MOJ] failed to comply with its positive obligation to put into place any or any proper system to protect individuals in the position of [myself].’
These findings were aggravated by the fact that I suffer with Post-Traumatic Stress due to mistreatment within prison as well as ‘the differential treatment afforded to [me], in that [I] was placed on more restrictive regimes whilst the prisoners who had abused and harassed [me] were given more progressive transfers, less restrictive unlock levels and higher IEP (Incentive and Earned Privilege) levels.’
A date was set for a remedies hearing to determine how the MOJ should address their institutional failings on 16th November 2022. In the final hours preceding the hearing, the MOJ accepted that individuals employed by them to work within its prisons where I had been located (including HMPs Full Sutton, Wakefield, Woodhill, Whitemoor, Long Lartin, Manchester, and Belmarsh) since 2012 had collaborated with these racist extremists whereby they ‘failed to protect [me] from racist and religiously motivated abuse and assaults…and failed to properly investigate the same.’ The severity of this discrimination amounted to torture and so the MOJ agreed ‘it is declared that there has been a breach of [my] rights under Articles 3, 8, and 14 ECHR…’
For the MOJ to have admitted that since 2012 I have been tortured and discriminated against within the Close Supervision Centre, which the title of evidences the scrutiny those detained within face, is no small thing. This landmark case has vindicated what I have suspected for years, that these racist nonces are working with the prison while trying to create a fake persona to trick those less informed that they are in the CSC due to being dangerous, rather than for their own protection which is the truth of it. Let’s not forget, while this hate campaign and associated litigation were occurring, the government’s so-called independent advisor on terrorism legislation, Jonathan Hall, undertook a supposedly thorough investigation into extremism within prisons and found no evidence of any far-right or fascist groupings or concerns. The deliberate blindness to this major and growing threat by all levels of personnel within and connected to the MOJ cannot be permitted to continue, silence is violence and so corrective action is urgently required. I would much rather have never had to experience this, but insha’Allah my ordeal helps bring about change or at least illuminates the clandestine world that is the prison within prison to make those corrupt public servants less willing to enable discrimination. Although the United Nations Special Rapporteur against Torture raised my situation with the government last year5, I remain detained within solitary confinement so this victory is not the end of the battle.
Anyone who wants to help me in this struggle can contact me at Kevan Thakrar – A4907AE, HMP Belmarsh – Segregation Unit, Western Way, Thamesmead, London, SE28 0EB by letter, cards through www.funkypidgeon.com, photos through www.freeprints.com, or emails via www.emailaprisoner.com. Alternatively, add your voice to the resistance on www.justiceforkevan.org. Please support Kevan financially if you are able: https://gofund.me/05b6095c
3 November 2016 when Bronson attacked Kevan
4 December 2019 when McCarthy attacked Kevan
5 June 2021 in the Guardian United Nations Intervention