Mother-of-five, Caroline Powell, died on 5 January 2007
From Pauline Campbell
Mother-of-five, Caroline Powell, died on 5 January 2007
while on remand at HMP & YOI Eastwood Park, Gloucestershire
Demonstration held on: Wednesday 24 January 2007
Pauline Campbell arrested (14th arrest), and charged (for the fourth time)
20th demonstration to be held since 2004
Following the tragic death of Caroline Powell on 5 January 2007, a demonstration was held outside the prison on the afternoon of Wednesday 24 January 2007. Around 10-15 people attended the protest, including reporters and photographers. Protesters had travelled from London, Shropshire, and Cheshire, to protest against the death of this vulnerable young woman, aged 26, who died in the 'care' of Her Majesty's Prison Eastwood Park. Caroline leaves behind five motherless children, the youngest aged 18 months. Ms Powell was on remand, and legally innocent, when she died.
Report by Pauline Campbell
At 2.55 pm, Reliance prison van FX04 BUP, was stopped as it attempted to take prisoners into the jail. The driver was informed that (a) protesters regarded the jail as unsafe in view of the recent death; (b) the vehicle would not be allowed into the prison; and (c) he should take the women to a place of safety.
Officers from Avon & Somerset Constabulary were called to the prison. Six officers arrived, and one began filming the demonstration. The sergeant read aloud a printed notice, then handed the copy to me. Dated 24.01.07, it reads: "To whom it may concern: I am the senior police officer here. I believe that you are committing, have committed, or intend to commit an offence of trespassing with the common purpose of deterring, obstructing or disrupting lawful activity and I require you to leave immediately. Failure to obey my direction may render you liable to arrest. If you return to the land as a trespasser within 3 months you will also commit an offence for which you may be arrested. Sergeant 1958 Ogborne."
At 4.20 pm I was arrested for "aggravated trespass and obstruction of the highway", and taken to Staple Hill Police Station, South Gloucestershire. Handcuffs were not used.
We arrived at the police station at 5 pm; detention was authorised at 5.30 pm.
Photographs, fingerprints, and DNA were taken. I objected (as I have done on a previous occasion) to mouth swabs being taken by a police officer, and expressed the view that taking body samples from any orifice should be done by a nurse or doctor, not a police officer.
I refused to sign the form which acknowledged that my prints had been taken and that the officer had informed me the prints would be kept on file for I.D. and crime investigation purposes. It was explained to me that it was within my rights not to sign.
I was locked in a cell; allowed to contact the duty solicitor while detained; then subsequently charged ("aggravated trespass - fail to leave land").
My reply to the charge, logged in police records, was: "Caroline Powell died on 5 January 2007 at Eastwood Park Prison; she has left behind five motherless children, and that explains the demonstration and my arrest today."
Reporters and photographers from local newspapers attended the protest, which was also covered by local radio. BBC Points West attended the demonstration, and a news report was included on regional television at 6.30 pm. The news item, broadcast into about five counties, included footage showing the arrest.
I have been granted unconditional bail to appear in North Avon Magistrates' Court, Kennedy Way, Yate, Bristol, BS27 4PY, on Thursday 1 February 2007 at 9.45 a.m.
At 7.45 pm, I was released from custody. A police car returned me to Falfield, to enable me to collect my car.
(1) Caroline Powell's grieving family are receiving support and advice from INQUEST, London: Caroline's father asked to be put in touch with me, and we spoke on the telephone on 23 January 2007, the day before the demonstration. He expressed wholehearted support for the protest, and said he was "100% behind the demonstration". Family members are grieving deeply, and preparing for the funeral, and therefore were unable to join us outside the prison.
(2) An invitation was sent to Steve Webb, MP for Northavon (Lib Dem), inviting him to attend the demonstration. In his e-mail reply to me, dated 22.01.07, he said: "Thank you for letting me know of your forthcoming demonstration. I will be at Westminster on Wednesday and will be unable to attend, but I am grateful to you for letting me know of the demonstration and certainly agree that the issue which you are highlighting is an important one."
(3) On the afternoon of the demonstration, a letter was sent into the prison (via a visitor), addressed to Governor Tim Beeston, asking if he would meet protesters at the prison gates. The letter was returned to me, unopened, at the end of visiting. The prison had apparently refused to accept the letter as it did not quote the prison's full postal address.
"The deaths of two women prisoners this month (Caroline Powell at Eastwood Park Prison, and Lucy Wood at HMP Peterborough on 15.01.07) again bring into sharp focus the fatal consequences of sending vulnerable women to prisons that cannot meet their human needs.
"Thirty-four women have now died in the 'care' of women's jails since my daughter died in 2003. All were owed a legal duty of care. Courts must stop sending women to their deaths.
"Caroline Powell was on remand at Eastwood Park Prison and was legally innocent when she died. Her father told me it was her first time in jail. I am still struggling to understand what useful purpose is served by herding so many vulnerable women into institutions that are not equipped to deal with their complex needs. The harsh and punitive treatment of women offenders is a disgrace."
(Figures refer to self-inflicted deaths; England and Wales)
Six print size colour photos are available
(No's 1, 2 and 3: taken before the arrest; No. 4: the arrest; No's 5 and 6: immediately following the arrest)
Freelance photographer: Guy Smallman
Tel 07956 429059
Photos can be used for free by progressive and campaigning groups (Guy Smallman must be notified of their use).
Local papers (usually free) must notify Guy Smallman of use.
National papers pay going rate and notify Guy Smallman of use.
[Bereaved mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died in the 'care' of HMP & YOI Styal, 2003]
Trustee of The Howard League for Penal Reform
Awarded The 2005 Emma Humphreys Memorial Prize
Posted by John Tyrrell at January 25, 2007 8:55 AM