Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Dossier

As some insist - on zero evidence - that the British criminal justice system is so wonderful that the only explanation for my situation is that I must be A Big Fat Liar, I constantly revisit the question as to whether I should publish my whole parole dossier.
And my hesitation remains, I stutter against the same barriers. Firstly, it includes information about third parties which is no business of the broader public. This includes my victim and family.
Secondly, and more importantly for me, it comprises over ten years worth of utter tripe that it would take me an age to rebut. Up to the early 1990's, we laboured under "closed reporting". That is, we never saw what was written about us or what the parole board had to say. It gave staff a license to write just about anything - and some of them did.
The only way I could put that before the public gaze is to write my version alongside and I just don't have the time to be able to do that.
That said, I do give you the best, and worst, that I can recall. It really isn't a case of my indulging in "impression management", a game I have never played. Just ask the parole board, who I once faced with no teeth and a beard to shame Gandalf!
The same applies with my parole answers, although after the last one I did post the paragraphs which contain the Board's reasons for not releasing me. That, at least, should satisfy those who think I'm just plain wicked, until I do decide to publish my whole prison file...when I get it.
And the idea has always appealed to me. Not just my parole dossier - a twisted, malign summary produced by the Ministry -but the pile of paper several feet thick that comprised My Life. One day, I will. Promise.


  1. I should imagine your files would make very interesting reading Ben, - although I’d have to question the merits of actually ‘publishing’ them whilst still in the grip of the system.

    Having obtained a copy of my own ‘care’ records about six years ago, I am more than aware of the kind of bullsh*t they can contain. One such gem from the mouth of a quack doctor who was examining me is recorded in my own files as: “That boy has got the eyes of a killer”

    I was 18mths old.

  2. That is terrible Darby, and things like that make me angry too.

    I would hate to think what is in my notes from psychiatry, they are constantly scribbling stuff around and about me, to what end I don't know.

    When our notes became made available at request, I was advised not to read them, in that they would make depressing reading ( that was probably an understatement ).

    It is a tricky one though because there are bound to be many errors due to being made to be an object of personal scrutiny and therefore there will be consequent injustices, but on the other hand; life is short, so who cares what others think of you, you've got a life to lead so why waste time reading other's views of you, especially as it is highly likely to make you angry and depressed?

    Thats for me though, its different for Ben with his having been incarcerated for so long, but it still might be something to bear in mind.

    All the best Ben, I'm not sure if I would read your parole notes if you ever got them published, not even for a rainy day; perhaps we could do a swap though; you could read my notes for a laugh in return!

  3. If someone was willing to redact the information not suitable for the public prior to publishing, that might be one way around it. That could either be you or someone you trust (or indeed more than one persoon you trust) or amixture of both

  4. I would have already published my Parole Board dossier if my printer/scanner was capable of compiling into 1 document rather than only capable of doing 1 sheet at a time.

    Whilst it is true that they have a tendency to blend fact and fiction, they also offer an insight which I feel is missing in Ben's blog posts.

    I wish Ben the best of luck in getting access to his prison record. Although the rules state that this is a possibility, and I have tried to get access to mine, I am not aware of anybody ever having succeeded, so it is best not to make promises which cannot be kept.

    My own prison record requires a trolley to move it from A to B it is that large. And, I know for a fact that whilst a copy of the record is kept in the establishment the prisoners is serving the sentence in, another copy is kept at HQ and in my case this one contains data not in the prison copy. I know because prison officers have told me that a) they don't know why I was made Category "A", and b) why I was on it for so long. And yet I know that the authorities possess this information, hence why I know that the 2 prison records are different.

    The Parole Board dossiers tend to be written in negative terms, so Flo Krause, the barrister who Ben and I both use, drafted our own version of a dossier which highlighted the positive aspects and served it on the Parole Board. The judge tried to rule against it but had to accept after legal argument that there was nothing to prevent us doing so and from the Parole Board taking it into account.

    Could it be that Ben suffers from a dose of you can fool all of the people some of the time but not all of the people all of the time?

  5. I have never ased to see my prison records, but i did ask to see my probation records, under data protection act. Though they would not show me there and then, and asked me to come back another day, obviosly so they could remove some pages. I have posted before why probation get my back up so much, so don't wanna repeat myself. Anyone can ask to see records about yourself under the data protection act.

  6. Even the ones held by HQ? What John Hirst implies is that they have a secret one that nobody sees.

  7. In terms of probation records, you can request to see your file at any time, under data protection, however the delay does stem from the fact that in all areas of probation record keeping (paper files, OASys assessments and electronic records) there are 'sections' or mechanisms by which to record 'information not to be disclosed to the offender'. This, you have no right to see. This could be for a number of reasons, including the fact that you seeing the information could put you or somebody else at increased risk. This includes any information relating to the victims, and records of contact with third parties (family, friends, professionals) which they have asked not to be disclosed to you (in the same way you have control over what information of yours we can share with family and friends. At the time you request to have a look, the file and records are in effect frozen, so it shouldn't be the case that staff can 'remove' information after you ask to see it.

  8. Hi,
    Of you can get access to prison files. The only material that will not be made available is material that may harm the prisoner or public. Please refer to Judgements already delivered. I am in a postion to state this since I am one of the people who won Judgements on this matter. My name is Prem Singh and you will find mentioned in "Prison Handbook".