All in all, my third experience of loss of liberty was the least unpleasant thus far. Indeed, compared to my first two lock-ups, November 2016 (six hours) and October 2017 (48 hours) both in police cells, my short time at HMP New Hall was a joy ride.
Single, warm cell; TV, kettle, pillow, thick quilt, mattress, e-cigarette; a view over the prison wall of trees and the occasional glimpse of a squirrel or wood pigeon. Being in need of a good rest (not having been able to enjoy a few days’ holiday thanks to my aborted trip to Paris last month), I lazed, feet up; watched the news and a couple of films; drank endless cups of tea and vaped nicotine, in moderation…
HMP New Hall used to be a borstal and previously, during the war, a training camp. My three nights were spent on the remand wing, the roughest and noisiest, where most new inmates are sent initially before being moved to one of the normal wings. I kept my head down most of the time. Only once on the second evening did I assert myself, after having being promised then denied my phone call. I was resolute in my protest, meaning I was eventually marched back to my cell. The next morning, Wednesday, I was finally briefed and allowed to phone home.
I was disturbed to learn that one fellow newbie had been remanded awaiting trial for some relatively minor alleged role in a drugs offence, meaning separation from her two-year old daughter and four-month old baby son. Other new arrivals were regulars: drug users caught for shoplifting or burglary. These women did not seem unhappy about being back behind bars, quite the contrary in fact. “Here’s where I get clean, come off the drugs,” said one woman; as if the prison system provided at least some kind of structure in lives that were chaotic on the outside.
Most inmates are working class Northern lasses, of varying ages. I noticed two or three Poles, Blacks, mixed-race and the same number of Asian hijabi-clad Muslimas.
The prison is understaffed: 140 wardens for 400 inmates, with less than a third of officers on duty at one time. Staff were clearly exhausted by the end of their shifts. But they were cheery, kind and, in most cases, professional. Ditto for the medical staff, especially nurse Jane. Prisoners and staff alike were interested to hear my story and I even got to sing a couple of songs.
I was psychologically prepared and therefore coped as well as could be expected. It is not difficult to imagine that more vulnerable women perhaps would find it difficult to adapt and settle in.
Then came the news that I was to be freed on unconditional bail. Paperwork meant that I was held for a further two and a half hours before finally greeting my parents who had driven over Woodhead Pass to collect me at the prison gate.
I am still ploughing through all the commentary. The vindictive tone of mainstream articles and of moderated below-the-line comments speaks for itself. Unsurprisingly, no mainstream report has been corrected to state that I have now been released pending appeal and been granted unconditional bail. Happily, independent reports have been far more balanced and reasoned.
Huge thanks especially to my Mum and Dad, to my barrister Adrian Davies, solicitor Kevin Lowry-Mullins and to those who made the trip last Monday to lend their support. Equally, thanks to everyone who blogged and campaigned on social media. After not starting off too well, the week has ended on something of a high, – although, even last Monday had its moments, as illustrated by the following anecdote, a small sign telling me I’m on the right path:
The court warden who cuffed me was the same warden who cuffed me in 2017 at Chesterfield Immediate Remand Court. We recognised each other and I reminded her that she had congratulated me when I had been released two years ago, and had told me that I was simply saying what everyone else was thinking but didn’t dare say out loud…
Next scheduled court date will be my appeal in the High Court in London, October 31st – Hallowe’en special and of course Brexit Day… More details to follow.
I recommend this as essential reading.
Thinking of you Alison in your brave fight for freedom..let us know where to donate, snail mail too! I expect the usual suspects know where you live, so lets bung wheelbarrow loads of shekels your way 😉
Great to hear Alison! God bless you!
I hope you’re planning on writing a book about your experiences. It could become an underground hit if we all give it a push in our various forums online.
More people deserve to know what has been done to you…and why…and by whom…
Name names – delve into their closeted pasts. With people as sordid as the ones persecuting you we all know there has to be piles of poo behind their smirks and grimaces. Expose the creeps for what they are while calmly defending yourself with FACTS.
I’d buy a copy for sure.
A very well written and to me, moving piece on the prison Alison. Extremely pleased to hear you are out.
As you know, Alison, the tsunami of ‘kvelling’ in the Jewish press that met your silly judge-let’s short-lived sentencing was instantly choked off by the news of your sudden release. (I think ‘kvelling’ must mean something like ‘gloating incontinently when the tribe gets to harm a person its members hate’, and ‘invoking kindred spirits to inflict on that person a fate that is as painful as possible, and if possible, greater still’.) The lamestream media that had kvelled along with the officially Jewish press did not even bother to record your release! (No shame, the ladies and gentlemen of the press?)
Your piece above is dumb-founding. There is in it a fascination with what you saw, and an intent to describe it faithfully. Not a shred of bitterness touches what you say. You are an extraordinary lady. Little wonder so many of us love you. God bless you and keep you your delightful self.
You are a beacon of hope with the heart of a Lioness. I have observed your situation from afar and have heartfelt admiration for your courage in the face of such inhuman opposition. These chosen few, are children of a lesser god, namely Beelzebub, Satan or the Devil, and they will stoop lower than you can possibly imagine, driven by their bile and hubris for everything that is good and true, for Truth is their greatest enemy. But slowly , but surely, their world is collapsing as the scales fall from good peoples eyes…………………Guiding lights such as Ursula Haverbeck , Monika Schaefer and Sylvia Stolz and yourself are breaking down the walls of silence and fear. I can only echo the previous comment;-“Your piece above is dumb-founding. There is in it a fascination with what you saw, and an intent to describe it faithfully. Not a shred of bitterness touches what you say. You are an extraordinary lady. Little wonder so many of us love you. God bless you and keep you your delightful self.” You are in my prayers.
Glad to know you have been released from prison Alison. What a crazy world we live in when a so-called ‘democracy jails a lady for expressing her god given right to free-speech.