Yesterday, around 40 people from the North-West gathered at HMP Hindley to send a loud message of solidarity to those affected by the prison’s harm, neglect and violence, and highlight the inhumane impact of current government policy. The prison, recently savaged by the government’s chief inspector of prisons as “possibly one of the very worst [Category C prisons] that inspectors had ever seen”, holds over 600 young people and adult men in abject conditions: inmates are fed mouldy bread, kept in filthy cells in extreme isolation (two thirds are regularly locked in their cells for over 18 hours a day) and denied access to showers, clean clothes and clean bedding. Over 150 prisoner suicide watch files have been opened in the last 6 months, and the latest tragic suicide in February 2016 shows that the authorities ignored the recommendations of an investigation into a previous death in 2012 — prisoners have only limited access to their families or professional emotional support services, and cell bells are often left unanswered.
The group — including locals from Hindley and Wigan, and an ex-inmate of the jail — massed at the main gates with whistles, bells, soundsystems, and megaphones and marched along the fence, sending a message of solidarity and compassion through the walls. In an illustration of the criminal justice system’s twisted priorities, Greater Manchester Police were in massive and expensive attendance (including two riot police squads, almost two dozen other officers, and a £20k/hour helicopter), while continual funding cuts inside the facility leave over four-fifths of qualifying prisoners without access to education. Demonstrators held their presence from the early evening until around 8PM, despite being menaced by police and arriving and departing prison officers, and several spoke to the inmates and a small crowd of gathered nearby residents about the harm caused by Hindley, as well as the wider UK prison system.
We hope the inmates heard us, and that we can create a dialogue with as many as possible to support them, and get the latest on conditions inside. If anyone has any friends or relatives in HMP Hindley at the moment get in touch because we’d like to hear from them.
The demonstration was called by No Prisons Manchester (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Smash IPP (email@example.com), and supported by Liverpool Solidarity Federation and A World Without Police.
No Justice, No Peace! No Prisons, No Police!