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From: barbara richards [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 21 March 2014 10:40 To: RAMSBOTHAM, Lord Subject: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Dear Lord Ramsbotham, I wrote to you a few years ago about my struggle in the secret family courts when I had to fight for my disabled son, who has Asperger Syndrome, and Pindown child abuse, and you were kind enough to try to help me. I did win my court case in the end, by dismissing the crooked Stoke On Trent lawyer Murray Cantlay who was working or both sides whilst recieving Legal Aid for my case, and that effectivly dried up the money that was being used to persecute our family. I am writing to you about something which may concern you, it is further abuse of our family, but not just our family. My son was attending a school for disabled children and they were taking my son and his classmates to a prison for PE lessons. They were actually putting my son and his friends in the care of prisoners, and one of the prisoners was in prison for smuggling drugs into Great Britain. I was not asked for my consent to this, and certainly would not have given consent had I been consulted. I want to know if that is even legal as I don't think it is. I have written to the Chief Inspectorate of Prisons and a lady called Joan Nash replied and referred me to another department, the National Offender Management Service, so I have written to them now and am waiting to get a reply. Yours sincerely, Barbara Richards
From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Date: Sat, 22 Mar 2014 17:13:23 +0000 Dear Barbara, I do know that some prisons run programmes for disabled and elderly people, with prisoners working with them as they use the prison facilities. As they all programmes have to be authorised by the Prisons Minister, to that extent they are certainly official, but I have never heard of their legality being questioned. I only came across such programmes in open and Category C prisons, to which prisoners have earned promotion, but prison Governors are responsible for risk assessment of any prisoner involved. If I was Chief Inspector, and you had written to me, I would have referred you to the Prison Service. I can well understand why you have been referred to the National Offender Management Service n(NOMS), because that now consists of the Prison and Probation Services, and its Chief Executive is responsible for both. So you have been referred to the right people and, until you get your reply, I suspect that there is nothing more that you can do, because anyone else you asked would refer you to NOMS. Yours Sincerely, David Ramsbotham
From: barbara richards [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 23 March 2014 09:18 To: RAMSBOTHAM, Lord Subject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Dear Lord Ramsbotham, Thank you for your reply. I am really really shocked because this is the first time I have heard of such a thing being actually sanctioned by everyone, apart from the parents of the children. No-one told us, it was only after the children started talking about it that we actually knew where they were being taken. Perhaps this is the reason you haven't heard about their legality being questioned before now. Barbara Richards
From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com Subject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:22:46 +0000 Dear Barbara, Both the disabled children’s group that I saw at Stanford Hill, and the pensioners at Lincoln, much appreciated the opportunity, and all those involved said how much the prisoners had benefitted from helping people worse off than themselves, as far as their rehabilitation was concerned. So, while obviously disturbed about the prisoner who was allowed to be in contact with your son, I think that you should remember that one of the purposes of imprisonment is to help people to live useful and law-abiding lives. If you do not challenge them, and teach them another way, they cannot learn. I have to admit that I am much more worried about the care that is taken to ensure that prisoners are properly assessed before letting them take part in such activities, than that such activities should take place.
From: barbara richards [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: 24 March 2014 09:09 To: RAMSBOTHAM, Lord Subject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Dear Lord Ramsbotham, Don't you think us parents ought to have been informed about where our children were being taken? We were not even informed, they took our children to Drake Hall prison without either our knowledge or consent - and if I had been fully informed about what was happening I most certainly would never have consented, and I am sure none of the other parents would either! These are disabled children we are talking about, not young thugs, children with disabilities, and they were not taken to the prison to teach them right from wrong, but taken there for PE lessons. The equipment at the school was better than the equipment they were allowed to use at the prison, so I can not see any good reason whatever why they were even taken to the prison for PE lessons. I didn't know about disabled children being taken to Stanford Hill, I don't know the circumstances of that at all, I'm talking about Drake Hall Prison near Eccleshall.
My son is trying to live a useful and law abiding life, he didn't need taking to a prison for that, he has a Christian mother to teach him right from wrong, but I know a lot of Asperger Syndrome people do end up in prison, a lot end up getting their first diagnoses of their condition in prison, my son was diagnosed when he was 4 years old so he certainly does not need to go to prison for that even. I am very angry about this, because on top of all the other problems our family has had, how on earth can anyone think this is right? The thing that has made me angry is that we were not even told, we were kept in the dark about where our children were being taken, so we didn't even have the opportunity to ask for what purpose our children were being taken to prison. I understand that two of the staff who were involved have since been sacked, for other reasons, I know that there was a lot of bullying by certain members of staff to the pupils in my sons final year, I was having to deal with the fall out of that when my son came home from school, he was very upset that one of the classroom assistants was punishing him by shutting him in a cupboard for what he called bad behaviour but what anyone who has a child with Asperger Syndrome would call an Asperger moment, for example my son was punished for giving a mathematics question as a percentage instead of a whole number, my son had worked out the percentage in his head and given that answer to the teacher, in other words he'd raced ahead, but instead of the teacher being pleased with my son he lost his temper and shouted at him for being "cocky " and punished him by making him go in the cupboard, and my son was crying when he got home, he didnt understand why he had been punished, it took three hours to calm him down, he saved up all his emotion for when he got home and good old mum had to deal with it as per usual. I didnt complain to the school about it, because he was taking his GCSEs and so I told him if that teacher punished him again by shutting him in the cupboard to make sure he took some revision in there with him so that it would not be time wasted. My son did pass his GCSEs, he worked very very hard and passed enough of them to get onto a course at a local college, but other children, his friends, some of them have not done as well as they should have due to the horrible atmosphere in that classroom, one of his friends was picked on as a sort of scapegoat by that member of staff, a lad with celebral palsey, he was even laughing about the lads limp in front of the other children. Sorry, but if you are going to bring up about children being helped into living useful and law abiding lives I need to bring that up, taking the children to a prison without their parents consent and knowledge is not going to help any of them, the thing that does help is having properly qualified teachers who don't lose their temper every 5 minuites with the children they are supposed to be teaching! Barbara Richards
From: email@example.com To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Date: Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:19:18 +0000 Dear Barbara, I fear that we are getting at cross purposes. Of course I understand where you are coming from, and I certainly think that, as parents, you should have been informed. But, to be fair to the Prison Service – of which I am not a member, and remain a relentless critic over many things! – I think that that was the responsibility and fault of the school. The Prison Service is responsible for ensuring that any prisoner, allowed contact with anyone brought in, young or old, disabled or able bodied, is a fit and proper person to do so. The disabled children I saw all those years ago at Stanford Hill, which is an open prison on the Isle of Sheppey, were also not young thugs, but had been taken there to enjoy the facilities in the gym, which were much better than they had at their school, particularly in terms of space. I was not talking about the children, taken to a prison, being helped to live useful and law-abiding lives. I was talking about the prisoners, given the opportunity of helping those worse off than themselves, being helped. Yours Sincerely, David Ramsbotham
From: barbara richards [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 24 March 2014 19:44 To: RAMSBOTHAM, Lord Subject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisons Dear Lord Ramsbotham, Oh, I'm sorry, I did misunderstand you, and I see what you are saying now, I did think you were talking about the disabled children, and felt really angry, but you were talking about the prisoners. I didn't know anything about what was happening on the Isle of Sheppey, this is Staffordshire I'm talking about, Walton Hall School was taking the children to Drake Hall Prison, my son was one of the children there, and I had absolutly no idea that he had been taken to a prison for PE lessons, my consent to it was never asked and if it had been I would never have let him go there, especially when I discovered that not only were the facilities the children were using not as good as the ones at Walton Hall school, but that prisoners were taking the PE sessions and, even more worryingly, were chatting to some of the children about the crimes they had committed. One of the prisoners was serving her sentence for smuggling drugs into the UK, another was in for robbing one of her friends. If the school had wanted to do something to warn the children against a life of crime they ought to have first asked the parents consent, and they ought to have made sure that the prisoners were talking about their crimes in a way to warn the children from those things, but not just allowing the children to mingle with the children, thats just not right! I had no idea such a scheme existed, and I'm sorry but there has to be something wrong if a prison has better facilities than a school for disabled children who have done nothing wrong except have the misfortune to be born with a disability anyway! I know you care passionatly about prison reform, but surely you can see that? I did buy your book Prisongate, and thought you were a wonderful man for what you did to stop women who were giving birth into manacles during labour, so please don't think that I don't care, but I am just so shocked at my son and his friends being taken to Drake Hall prison without the parents consent and knowledge. Our family has had so many trials and tribulations over the years, what with me being in a Pindown childrens home and then the secret family court case that lasted for 7 years, which was horrendous, but to find out my son has been not only taken to prison but also given over to the care of drug smugglers, well it makes me feel sick. Barbara
From: firstname.lastname@example.orgTo: email@example.comSubject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisonsDate: Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:11:04 +0000 Dear Barbara, I am worried that you should imagine that there is a scheme, because I suspect that that is leading you down false trails. It is quite clear to me that there was fault on two sides here, the first one being the school’s, for failing to tell you what they were doing. I think that you should complain to them. Undoubtedly the prison Governor should have ensured that the only prisoners allowed to work with the children, were properly risk assessed beforehand. I think that the best way to deal with this is to ask the school to pass on your complaint, rather than write to the Governor yourself, because that should make him or her get things right in future. The line I think that the Governor should take is to warn all prisoners that inappropriate behaviour, such as the talk you describe, risks bringing the whole venture to an end, to the disadvantage of the children, who were benefitting from the facilities, and prisoners who are being given a practical opportunity to learn what being a law-abiding and useful citizen means, through practical experience. I have always avoided making comparisons between facilities in schools and prisons, because I believe that both have a job to do, on behalf of society, for which they should be properly equipped. Rather than suggest, as some do, that prisons should not have decent facilities for their job, I would argue for better facilities to be provided in schools, which is something about which you should engage your MP.
From: firstname.lastname@example.orgTo: email@example.comSubject: RE: Taking schoolchildren into prisonsDate: Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:26:26 +0000 Dear Lord Ramsbotham, I appreciate what you are saying, but with all due respect the children from Walton Hall school most certainly were not the ones who were benefitting from this unorthodox special relationship between their school and Drake Hall prison. The children have said that they were not using any special equipment at Drake Hall prison, they were just using benches and balls, and in fact they had better equipment at the school than they were allowed to use at the prison! What really does worry me is that the children have described a great big window overlooking the room where they were doing their physical activity. I have complained to Ofstead, that was when I first discovered that the children were being taken to the prison, I have only just discovered the children were being coached by prisoners, I had been led to believe that the children were simply being given use of the hall and equipment with no prisoners or prison staff being present. As for complaining to my MP Bill Cash, after the horrible things that happened to me in the secret family courts that he was made fully aware of, and yet did nothing to stop, I am actually afraid to approach him about this now, and you know that because when you tried to help me and even very kindly offered me the use of your own lawyer pro bono that he didn't even answer your letters, you told me so yourself. but you're right, because he is my MP and therefore this is his business, so I had better write to him, not that I expect him to do anything other than try to brush it all under the carpet as he did with the secret family court situation and the Pindown child abuse cover up! Barbara
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