Peterborough Prison

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Jailed Whistleblower Melanie Shaw Exposes Prison Human Rights Abuses

Published October 9, 2014 by misty534

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Detained in high security Peterborough prison for 77 days with no evidence of her involvement in the alleged arson incident, Beechwood Children’s Home whistleblower, Melanie Shaw’s voice is only becoming louder, blazing a trail across social media, blogs and lobbying campaigns.

Re-abused behind bars by a system that seems intent on breaking her will and silencing her forever, the watchful face of Melanie Shaw, survivor and witness to unspeakable crimes of child abuse, is fast becoming a symbol of human rights denied to society’s voiceless incarcerated in Britain’s jails

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Silent Vigil for Melanie Shaw outside HMP Peterborough, Sunday 5th October 2014

Figures from the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) and National Offender Management Service (NOMS) show that remand prisoners are at a heightened risk of self-harm and suicide, and it’s easy to see why.

Over half of women in prison have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child, compared to 27% of men, according to latest figures from the Prison Reform Trust. Many of these will be suffering from anxiety and depression.

Added to that, the privatisation of prisons is leading to more overcrowding and a lowering of standards of prisoner welfare. Private prisons are often the worst performers, seen in the lower ratings categories, according to Ministry of Justice figures published this year.

Women are not getting their medication”

Despite bans on phone calls to supporters, and letters from the public routinely censored by officials, Melanie managed to speak to Neon Nettle, to convey the harsh reality of life inside HMP Peterborough, affecting not only herself, but hundreds of other inmates – many of whom grew up in the care system.

She said: “We’ve got 350 plus women with severe mental health problems and issues, not getting their medication. They’ve got other medical problems: rotted teeth, infected sores, all sorts of problems, even though there’s been a Law Lords ruling passed about access to NHS healthcare. If they don’t give you the medication, the money they’re saving outweighs any money they might have to pay out in a law suit, as most of them [inmates] are going to be back again because they’re not able to function in society.”

They injected Melanie’s pregnant neighbour with a drug and she miscarried twins. “They might book her in, in two weeks, for a scrape of the womb,” adds Melanie gravely. “So her womb is being left to fester and rot.”

The Prison Rules 1999 set out legally binding entitlements for remand prisoners which recognise they have not been convicted or sentenced. But a wide berth of discretion is permitted to prison governors on implementing them, allowing basic health needs to be easily ignored.

Prisons inspections failing:

“It’s when all their failings are pointed out, that they put them right for an inspection,” continues Melanie, “but as soon as it’s been approved they go straight back to their old practices. They [the prison] are putting things right for when the second visit happens in a week or two. As soon as they get ticked off as being acceptable, they remove everything. Staff are confiding in me because they’re too frightened to go to management, because they know the consequences and will be totally ignored. That’s the state of affairs in this prison.”

A spokesperson from HM Inspectorate said most of their inspections are unannounced, and they “do delve beneath the surface.” Evidence is collected from five sources: surveys, prisoner discussion groups, staff one-to-ones, observation and the minutes of meetings. They aren’t the only ones who go into prisons.

The principles of innocent until proven guilty, and the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment – whatever the situation,enshrined in the Human Rights Act, are being robustly disregarded at Peterborough, at least in Melanie Shaw’s case.

With knowledge of her abuse, the prison considered it appropriate to strip search her three times, bully her and withhold her prescription medicines to cope with post-traumatic stress symptoms, not to mention painkillers and other medicines for an infected leg ulcer. The pain has been excruciating, leading her to self-harm for the first time in her life

Councillor

Lab Councillor calls for Melanie’s release:

Labour Councillor for St Anns ward in Nottingham, Sue Johnson, who has known Melanie for over fifteen years, said: “Melanie is the type of person that will help anybody. I just need to say: ‘Melanie I need help with this or that’, and she’ll drop everything and come and help you. She’s got a heart as big as a bucket.”

“I just don’t feel she should actually be in there. If she is unstable, she should be in a residential place where she can get visitors and the proper medication and counselling. Because this [prison] is just making it worse, whether she committed the crime or she didn’t. I think it’s absolutely outrageous.”

When we contacted HMP Peterborough to determine whether there areever any circumstances in which a remand prisoner – particularly if unconvicted – can obtain leave on compassionate grounds or for the purpose of receiving medical treatment, we were referred to the Ministry of Justice Press Office. Prior to that, the Human Resource department at Sodexo Justice Services, the private company running HMP Peterborough, had informed us that each prison has its own policy on compassionate leave, and contacting them directly would be advisable.

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Sodexo’s apparent lack of interest in prisoner welfare exists in stark contrast to the Prison Reform Trust, whose Director, Juliet Lyon, said:“People in prison, on remand or under sentence, are entitled to receive the same quality of healthcare as they would in the community. But in practice, a high level of vulnerability and a lack of available staff and resources mean they do not always get the treatment they require.”

 “To put matters right, prison should be reserved for the most serious and violent offenders. Wherever possible, people who are mentally ill should be diverted into care and treatment in the community, not locked up in a bleak prison cell.”

Sue Johnson hopes the special bond forged through years of working with Melanie in the same council office will instil trust, and help resolve what many see as a miscarriage of justice, a politically motivated attempt to silence a witness to high level paedophile ring. Johnson has been working quietly behind the scenes on Melanie’s behalf. MPs can’t overturn a court’s decision unfortunately, she’s looked into that; they simply don’t have the powers to overrule a judge’s decision. But that won’t stop her from doing whatever she can to help Melanie.

By Neon Nettle

SILENT VIGIL OUTSIDE HMP PETERBOROUGH PRISON FOR #FREEMELANIESHAW

Published October 7, 2014 by misty534

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An account by one Melanie Shaw silent vigil attendee and banner maker

As I walked over the rail bridge and looked down the Westfield road I could see the prison on the right behind the Parks Metal fence bars, peaking above the tops of the trees with that children’s park in the foreground and the sky was a lovely blue with the sun shining bright but there where some trails causing the sky to start slowly turning that horrible dull milky white. I stopped at the busy junction for Lidl and the bingo and put my bag down to get out the first large banner since this seemed a good place to put it up, just as I was attaching it to the metal bars of the park fence a Police car came over the bridge with blues and sirens going but I didn’t bat an eye lid as I finished tightening the cable ties attaching it to the bars, it was a “good” time for the police to whiz past like that!

As I continued down the Westfield road past the park which seemed empty in the shadow of the prison I approached the Halcyon pub to find a few people around the back, we greeted each other and chatted briefly then I moved indoors to the bar and found Wendy in her splendid Green party tabard sitting with Kiikii and some other members of the vigil. We chatted over coffee and then the police facilitator arrived and Kiikii was distraught because it was not Stuart!!

After a short while we all moved over to the park to begin the Vigil but Brian Gerrish was not yet present, there was the word going around the vigil that Brian was not coming now but then Carole arrived with bags of flyers, t shirts, stickers and ukcolumn papers and confirmed Brian was close behind and would arrive soon, the atmosphere lifted at this moment.
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We continued to mingle amongst ourselves holding our banners up for all the people walking past to see and then Linda helped me attach a banner to the metal fence opposite so that all the traffic going past could have no doubt as to why we where there. At this point there was maybe 50 of us in the park with banners, flyers, posters and even symbolic birthday presents “the heart of the British public”.

At this point some photographers arrived so we all posed for pictures behind our banners and posters. The sun was still shining bright as the sky was began to glaze over when Brian was spotted approaching the vigil and little cheer went up, I greeted him and asked if the drive up was ok and he confirmed it was!

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So there we where some 50 to 60 of us and Brian gave us a little talk and an update having just been on the phone to Melanie himself that is why he was little late. He told us some distressing news. Melanie was forced to use Sanitary towels and dish clothes to dress her leg ulcer and was not in a good way mentally being abused and bullied ongoing. Brian also told us of some other atrocities happening within the Walls of Sodexo HMP Peterborough that I cannot repeat at this time but there have been several deaths.

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As Brian was talking a lady called Belinda McKenzie passed some flyers out for her organization “Battle of Britain’s children 2014” and she also collected names and contact details in the hope she could get a national activist entity formed to tackle child abuse. I have to say I am sceptical to this woman’s motives but wont say more here please goggle for that its all out there. She then addressed the crowd after Brian speaking rather well.

As the morning turned into afternoon sandwiches started to emerge from bags and many members of the public came by to enquire and there where many groups of us on the park holding our banners high and talking about various subjects including the ghosting of prisoners and how private prison that are run for profit are very dangerous indeed, in the U.S.A there laws require these private prisons to be 95% full at all times! To be honest we talked about so much ive forgotten more than I can recall. The police facilitator was there, he was not Stuart but I forget his name he seemed pleasant enough wearing his blue tabard that sometimes covered his camera.
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After dinner into the afternoon we decided to take a stroll to the prison entrance directly in order to alert Melanie and the other prisoners to our presence in order they might gain some hope that people on the outside care about there situation.

The police Facilitator (who is not Stuart lol) accompanied us all the way and we stopped to pose for photos at the prison entrance as a marked police car came past and did a uturn before parking up to monitor us. Before moving into the premises of the car sales company “Winstons motors”. It was very kind of the Police facilitator to approach Winstons motors on our behalf to gain us peaceful entry into there premises.

We assembled opposite the prison area where we believed Melanie was detained and we posed again for photos and chanted “free Melanie” a couple of times before singing her happy birthday which Brian led. At this point we heard some whistling from the prison and Melanie managed to shout really loud several times “thank you” which touched us all and made the day seem even more worthwhile. We all were in no doubt that our actions on that day at the very least lifted the spirits of Melanie and others in that prison detained without evidence of committing crimes and informed the authorities that a significant number of people care enough to do something about it.

After a while and more chatting to the public and amongst ourselves we all moved back to the park and the Halcyon pub, it was now 3pm and many including Brian headed to the pub for a well deserved pint but sadly I did not leaving with a new friend who offered a lift home but not before saying bye to Brian and some others.

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