POA Circulars

52 | 20.04.2017

INSIDE STRANGEWAYS AIRED 18TH APRIL 2017 ON CHANNEL 5 AT 9PM

The above television show was aired on Channel 5 at 9pm on Tuesday 18th April 2017. Some views expressed by individuals as part of the show and the theme of the overall show appeared to suggest that Prison Staff working at HMP Strangeways, now HMP Manchester had run a violent and brutal regime in the lead up to the 1990 riot. It further suggested that the use of Largactil, commonly referred to as ‘liquid cosh’ was used uncontrolled by Prison Staff regularly. The show further seemed to dramatize the activities of several notorious characters, that have been housed at HMP Manchester in more recent years.

This show has obviously caused distress and outrage amongst colleagues & members, who were working at HMP Strangeways at the time of the 1990 riot. The further dramatization of behaviour of certain notorious Prisoners has aroused a variety of responses from those that have worked with these characters, since it became HMP Manchester and there is clear disparity between what their own experience was in comparison to what was depicted within the show.

For my own part, footage was used of an interview that I had agreed with Channel 5 back in October 2016, the interview eventually took place on the 1st December 2016 at a point when the POA were in constant media attention. I agreed to the interview on the premise that it was to discuss our current issues surrounding violence, security failings, control and discipline issues and was told that the footage recorded would likely be aired in February 2017, as part of a Prison Violence programme.

Obviously, I was disappointed to see footage of myself used within this dramatized show, although quite clearly there was no reference by myself to any incidents at HMP Manchester or Strangeways and the footage used was clearly referring to the current issues we have. The shows overall message however is one which the POA would not endorse or support. As a result of watching the show, I will be writing to the Producers to express my disappointment, frustration and anger at the negative depiction towards staff who worked at HMP Strangeways before 1990 and the fact that footage of myself was used in such a show, that clearly would have invoked my refusal to participate on behalf of the POA if the final production and message that would be conveyed had of been known.

Unfortunately, the POA do not control the media once an interview has been given and the material belongs to those producing the show or those purchasing the material once finally produced. It is important that the POA continue to place the issues of our members into the media spotlight, to put pressure on Ministers and to gain much needed public support, but it is also correct that we challenge the media when we believe they have deliberately mislead or misused information.

Yours sincerely

 

MIKE ROLFE
National Chair