She was the watchdog who was accused of causing “embarrassment” by ministers and driven to the depths of despair after voicing concerns about prison monitoring. Then serious rioting erupted at several English prisons. Was Faith Spear right to blow the whistle on the state of England’s jails?
Her fate was sealed with a printed, rather than handwritten, ministerial signature.
Received on a cold morning this January, Faith Spear, the suspended chairman of the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Hollesley Bay in Suffolk, knew what the letter from prisons minister Sam Gyimah would say.
She had, he told her, “repeatedly disclosed classified and other information, often in an inaccurate manner” and had “failed to comply with agreed policies and procedures”.
Her role as chairman was terminated and she was told she could not serve on another IMB for at least five years.
To this day Mrs Spear believes she was punished by a system more interested in controlling its own reputation than listening to grave concerns over the state of prisons.
*photo credit Laurence Cawlay (http://laurencecawley.co.uk/)