Monday, 28 February 2011

Who does actually govern?

Ok, nothing to do with the European Union because we all know the answer there! The Purple Scorpion has a post (one well worth reading) pointing out the deficiencies with our system of government, such as it is, presently.

It is obvious from DPMs going on holiday and forgetting they are 'in charge'; Foreign Secretaries and other ministers more concerned with how internal briefs are written (do follow the link, it is hilarious) than dealing with matters of state; and a Transport Minister concerned with speed limits and traffic lights; that our system of government is broken and in need of a radical overhaul. It is also evident that civil servants would appear to be 'driving' policy with what might be termed a 'Common Purpose' as it also seems that whilst politicians 'pull the levers', nothing happens.

There is so much done by central government that could and should be done by local government, but this would make the subjugation of the people even harder for those who practise democratised dictatorship - which makes all this 'devolution of power' rubbish, that our politicians propose, such a sham!

TPS, at the end of his post, writes:
"Otherwise it's just another headline."
And that sums up just what is our present form of government - a 'headline' or 'soundbite', one designed to pacify the electorate into thinking that action will be taken, whilst 'agreement/permission' is sought from Brussels.

With our politician's record of obfuscation, cheating and downright lying; their continued message about transparency and honesty, when there is none; the fact they present themselves to the electorate as 'Honourable', when they are anything but; the reputed phrase Gordon Brown used to Tony Blair comes to mind, namely: there is not one thing they could say to me now that I would believe!

Can the politics in our nation sink any lower?

Well, Daniel?

"There is something faintly surreal about holding a referendum which no one asked for on a voting system which neither of the two Coalition parties supported, while refusing to hold one which the country does demand, and which both Coalition parties were recently pledging. What is the point of consulting people on how to elect their MPs, but not on whether those MPs should run the country?"
From Helen, Your Freedom and Ours:
"Of course, this statement will lead to a mass exodus of so-called eurosceptics from the Conservative Party, particularly those who told us last year that a vote for their party was a vote for a solution of the intractable "European" problem. The exodus will be led by Daniel Hannan MEP etc etc.

Hmm. Is that a piglet I see flying by?
Sorry Daniel, but once again it is time to say: Put up or shut up!

Privacy? That depends on who and when......

From Open Europe's press summary for today:
"Environment Minister’s family has earned £2m in EU farm paymentsThe Mail on Sunday reported that the family of a Government Minister, Richard Benyon, has earned £2m in EU farm subsidies between 1999 and 2009. Mr Benyon, a Conservative MP, is the Environment and Fisheries Minister within DEFRA, which recently blocked public access to all information about how much farmers had earned from subsidies in order to comply with an ECJ ruling on data privacy."
From the ONS, via IanPJ on Politics:
"All data is the property of the ONS and only UK/EU owned companies will have any access to personal census data."
It would seem we have a principle being applied in two different ways - one which protects personal data for politicians, the other doing the exact opposite for ordinary people.

Welcome to Democratised Dictatorship!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

See what happens when our backs are turned?

Presumably as Mercer is his constituency MP, this is reposted from 13th Spitfire:

"Mr. Mercer,

As an elected representative of the British people, it is your duty to explain to us why our govt. has agreed to replace the British military with an EU Military, without our approval, consultation, or consent.

In particular, I ask the following:

Why did our govt. sign this EU-SOFA agreement (UK sig. on page 10), which merges the militaries of European nations into an EU Military?

Link: EU-SOFA agreement, signed by UK

Why did our govt. agree to ATHENA, an EU mechanism to administer the 'common costs' of military operations on behalf of 'Europe' ?


Why did our govt agree to ERASMUS MILITARE, an EU mechanism to create a common defence culture via exchange of young military officers within training colleges around the EU ?

And why did our govt agree to the EUROPEAN SECURITY and DEFENCE COLLEGE to train military personnel from EU member states for a mission defined as 'To support a Common Security and Defence Policy and to promote a common European security culture.' ?

MP Mercer, this is not only a betrayal, it's a pre-meditated, wilful a betrayal by stealth.

I suspect that there will soon come a day where the British people remind those they perceive as traitors that betrayals of this magnitude have a way of consuming, in very unsavoury ways, those who perpetrate them.

The V Column

A little bird tells me that a new Twitter feed has appeared: VColumn.

I am also reliably informed that, whilst it may take a day or so for statements to appear, this is definitely one Twitter feed that will be worth following.

You heard it here first, folks!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Tonight, Matthew, I want to be........?

Matthew d'Ancona has his usual op-ed piece in tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph:
"The foreign policy of England should always be inspired by a love of freedom”: so declared Gladstone in the Midlothian campaign, staking out a moral and political principle that is one of David Cameron’s favourites."
And the difference between a foreign and domestic policy is?
"The last seven days have been inglorious for the Coalition – Cameron on tour with arms manufacturers; Nick Clegg forgetting on the Swiss piste that he was meant to be Acting Prime Minister; Hague stumbling uncharacteristically as precious hours ticked by, reporting flaky rumours about Gaddafi’s supposed flight from Libya and mysteriously declining to call a meeting of Cobra."
And the result of 'pinning a rosette on a monkey' is.........?

Just asking.................

After Prophesy comes Hindsight

From a youtube video, extracts from the Maggietollah's speech at The Hague, 1992:
"If the European Community proceeds in the direction which the majority of Member States and the Commission seem to want, they will create a structure that brings insecurity, unemployment, national resentment and ethnic conflict......Such a body is even more a Utopian enterprise than the Tower of Babel, for at least the builders of Babel all spoke the same language when they began."
Oh that we had a Prime Minister who, attending a Heads of State meeting in Brussels could repeat, once again, the words of the Maggietollah:
"Mr. Chairman, you have invited me to speak on the subject of Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should congratulate you on your must be rather like inviting Genghis Khan to speak on the values of peaceful coexistence."
Unfortunately the only qualification Cameron appears to possess is that of a Eunuch, presumably in order to perform a specific social function!

Cameron insists he is still 'in charge' - really?

ePolitix has a post on the above, a statement that probably is most incorrect in political history.

Bearing in mind this man, David Cameron - together with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband - is content to accept membership of the European Union, perhaps it is pertinent to remind him of Articles 3-6 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):
"Article 3
1. The Union shall have exclusive competence in the following areas:
(a) customs union;
(b) the establishing of the competition rules necessary for the functioning of the internal market;
(c) monetary policy for the Member States whose currency is the euro;
(d) the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy;
(e) common commercial policy.
2. The Union shall also have exclusive competence for the conclusion of an international agreement when its conclusion is provided for in a legislative act of the Union or is necessary to enable the Union to exercise its internal competence, or in so far as its conclusion may affect common rules or alter their scope.

Article 4
1. The Union shall share competence with the Member States where the Treaties confer on it a competence which does not relate to the areas referred to in Articles 3 and 6.
2. Shared competence between the Union and the Member States applies in the following principal areas:
(a) internal market;
(b) social policy, for the aspects defined in this Treaty;
(c) economic, social and territorial cohesion;
(d) agriculture and fisheries, excluding the conservation of marine biological resources;
(e) environment;
(f) consumer protection;
(g) transport;
(h) trans-European networks;
(i) energy;
9.5.2008 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 115/51
(j) area of freedom, security and justice;
(k) common safety concerns in public health matters, for the aspects defined in this Treaty.
3. In the areas of research, technological development and space, the Union shall have competence to carry out activities, in particular to define and implement programmes; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.
4. In the areas of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, the Union shall have
competence to carry out activities and conduct a common policy; however, the exercise of that competence shall not result in Member States being prevented from exercising theirs.

Article 5
1. The Member States shall coordinate their economic policies within the Union. To this end, the Council shall adopt measures, in particular broad guidelines for these policies. Specific provisions shall apply to those Member States whose currency is the euro.
2. The Union shall take measures to ensure coordination of the employment policies of the Member States, in particular by defining guidelines for these policies.
3. The Union may take initiatives to ensure coordination of Member States' social policies.

Article 6
The Union shall have competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States. The areas of such action shall, at European level, be:
(a) protection and improvement of human health;
(b) industry;
(c) culture;
(d) tourism;
(e) education, vocational training, youth and sport;
C 115/52 EN Official Journal of the European Union 9.5.2008
(f) civil protection;
(g) administrative cooperation.
Perhaps Cameron - or anyone else - would care to point out one aspect of our national governance that the European Union does not have the power to dictate - or amend, if already introduced nationally?

And Cameron reckons he is 'in charge'? In the entertainment that passes for politics in our nation, he most certainly cannot fulfill the role of a 'Punch', so he must be 'Judy' - aka a punchbag.

The fatuousness of British politics

If ever the above subject was in doubt then this post on a recent discussion of whether the left or right have the better looking politicians must be the final proof.

With all the problems facing our country - no navy, no air force, an inefficient health service, an education system that isn't, a police service governed by an unelected cabal, a government that is no more than an administrative centre - a discussion over which ideology has the most attractive politicians is worthy of debate?

Anyway, how can the discussion even be considered valid, when we have elected politicians who all belong to parties that are all of the centre-left ideology? How does one differentiate between the ideology of a left-leaning robot and a right-leaning robot?

Mind you, when we have mindless representatives elected by a mindless electorate, is it any wonder our nation is in the state it is?

Just asking...............

Friday, 25 February 2011

The sinking of the United Kingdom

Most of us with any knowledge of history will recall the exploits of the orchestra on the RMS Titanic who continued to play whilst the ship sank beneath the waves.

The similarity of that event can be compared with events that have occurred during the past few weeks - with the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisa and Libya - when coupled with the behaviour of our national politicians who have continued to play the same tune about the restoration of democracy in those countries, whilst their own is sinking beneath the waves.

It is there that the similarity ends as whilst the Titanic orchestra members were honoured and revered, unfortunately the present-day 'band members' playing the 'democracy tune' will not be so remembered. In fact, if the British people have any sense of justice they will send our past and present so-called guardians of the United Kingdom a bill, one that will be far, far more than that received by Jock Hume's father.

It is not beyond irony that in those days the relationship twixt master and employee, which meant that the latter were expected to be heard by their patrons but surely not seen, has been 'turned on its head' - which to our political elite will probably be held as progress!

It is about time that the British people enacted the philosophy proposed in the old adage "an eye for an eye".

Just another thought.............

A Guest Post

By Edward Spalton. It links to my previous post entitled "Fiddling with AV" and broadens the debate.

Here is a new, unexpected class of electoral "player"! There are hundreds of "Third Sector" charities which owe their existence or sustenance in one way or another to the EU and HMG. For instance - The World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth and Oxfam all receive massive EU support (and doubtless many more names which people love and respect). Perhaps just by chance these above all sing the official tune in the global warming debate! Oxfam provides its staff as paid agitators for "climate change" - like the one at Ratcliffe on Soar power station. Also there are those which rely on the "market"
in public services whose role Mr Cameron wants to expand.

Then there is the Electoral Commission itself. It's a very long time since I read the Act but I seem to recall that it has a statutory duty to inform the public about the institutions of the EU. So it too could become a "player" under this guise.

A while ago Private Eye ran a story on another voter registration company. called Opt2Vote Ltd which, it claimed, had close links with the Labour Party: many councils entrusted it with their voter registration.

Charity law has been altered considerably so that the "Third Sector" (as it is called, i.e. not state, not private enterprise) has more freedom to campaign on political issues. I wonder which ones the Referendum Pledge people have lined up - at least for an approach. The EU and government paymasters will have all their clients lined up well in advance of any referendum.

The actual, official referendum campaign will only be the home straight of a much longer race (without any rules) which may decide the outcome far in advance - as happened in 1975.

Whilst some newspapers now may be more Eurosceptic than in those days, a whole new bloc of corporate interests (ultimately funded by the state and/or eurostate) has emerged to take the place of people like the British Motor Industry which believed that joining the EEC would be a great thing for the sale of Austins, Rovers, Triumphs etc. Only the new groups are already bought and paid for by the enemy - but that is not obvious to the well-intentioned, charitable public who support such groups because they genuinely want to relieve the victims of famine and save those cuddly polar bears.

'EU Nationals' - An Oxymoron?

Autonomous Mind picks up on a statement made by an EU spokesman in respect of repatriating those individuals from European countries who are working in Libya:
"The ongoing evacuation of EU citizens in Libya is a member state responsibility, with the EU in a supporting role through its Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), which was activated yesterday. The EU has no embassy in Tripoli and relies on the member states for information. The European External Action Service said that the number of EU citizens still in Libya was unknown, while the Commission put the number at 5,000-6,000. According to the Commission, around 5,000 EU nationals have already left Libya."
Err, as the European Union is not a nation, how can those that are forced to live in it be 'nationals'?

Within the article from European Voice, to which AM links, is this little gem:
"The official said that the European Commission's humanitarian aid department had been in consultation with member states to see what civilian and military assets might be available should any armed humanitarian operation be needed."
Not much point in asking the UK then seeing as we don't have a Navy or Air Force from which to contribute machines and men! Even more to the point is the fact that the spokesman had no idea what aims such an armed humanitarian operation would have, nor what its mandate would be.

Like AM, I too am getting totally 'piste-off' with the gradual 'EUisation' that is being practised by Brussels and can only echo AM's suggestion about what they can do with their flag, stars and anthem!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

And this is how a 'Government' 'works'?

Tim Montgomerie has a quite lengthy post on Conservative Home in respect of the 're-working' of how Number 10 goes about its daily business'. If the details of Tim Montgomerie's post are correct, then in addition to lifting the roof off Number 10 the sooner we demolish the walls the better!

If Cameron needs someone to someone to ensure he 'hits' long-term political goals, then why the hell has he got the job he has?

If the Civil Service appears to have the amount of influence Montgomerie's post suggests, then it does indeed seem to have been inflicted with a 'Common Purpose' and the sooner this is removed - surgically or otherwise - the better.

If a 'press team' is required to 'manage' 'big issues'- when they 'blow up', then perhaps the wrong people are in the position of Secretaries of State?

Montgomerie notes that:
"David Cameron started with only a handful of policy advisors. Gordon Brown's unit was staffed almost entirely by political advisers (SpAds) and they, naturally, left with him. Ten months into the Coalition government Cameron is determined to keep his promise to reduce the overall number of SpAds and that is why the new Policy Unit will be staffed by civil servants."
Yet this is no more than politicising the Civil Service - which should not happen?

Whenever I read that anything is going to be 'beefed-up' I take that to mean that the cattle are to be culled - which probably explains my proposition that we live under a system of democratised dictatorship, something which is the explanation of all our ills!

We do indeed the revolution for which some of us long!

It must have been obvious for some time now that Daniel Kawcszynski was a .....

Daniel Kawczynski has a post on Conservative Home - which I urge all to read as it is the most vacuous and patronising that I have seen since becoming an avid 'internet-nut', one interested in politics.

Noting how there are hundreds and hundreds of graves of British servicemen who died fighting fascism (and the freedoms incorporated in what was British democracy - Ed) and how he noted that so many were so young, thereby losing the lives ahead of them, I could willingly ram those words down the orifice on which he sits! He continues that, with his colleagues, he paused to recall the freedoms we have today, for which these young men died.

Those buried in the British War Cemetery in Tripoli must - as with all those that lost their lives during two World Wars, wherever they may be buried - be turning in their graves when they witness the loss of freedoms for which they died as a result of the social-engineering that has taken place in what was their country, at the hands of our political elite. Witnessing how our politicians have sold their country 'over the Channel' (aka, down the river) they have probably died a second time.

Writing that he is "shocked and appalled by the levels of violence unleashed by the Libyan government" Kawcszynski should remember one thing - when the British people finally do rebel, the levels of violence they practise will be even beyond his imagination. He should also realise that whilst Gaddafi has survived for the days and weeks that he has, Kawcszynski's survival - together with those of his ilk - will probably be measured in minutes!

Fiddling with AV?

On the Coffee House blog Ed Howker would appear to have uncovered yet another scam being perpetrated on the British electorate. In a nutshell, it would appear that the company in charge of administering the referendum on AV is itself funding one side of the campaign.

For those interested the last annual accounts of Electoral Reform Services Ltd can be viewed here and the website of the Electoral Reform Society here. Also by viewing this website and clicking on individual names it can be seen to which other companies the Directors of Electoral Reform Services Ltd are associated. At first sight there would appear to be no 'cross-jobbing' twixt ERS and ERSL, which would be a tad too blatant - even for those who appear to be auditioning for the string section of an orchestra.

If, as Ed Howker maintains, it is indeed true that a little 'assistance' has been provided to one side of the AV referendum debate then it makes a mockery of this statement by Ashley De, Director of Communications, Electoral Reform Society:
"History won't look kindly on mischief makers who could still stand in the way of the coming national debate. The future of our voting system should rest in the hands of voters next May."
If the future of our voting system should rest in the hand of the voters next May, then should not they be presented with a fair and unbiased set of information. Should those who are involved in this process not refrain from influencing the views of the voters?

Just thinking.................

You miss the point Bryony

Bryony Gordon, at the foot of her comment piece in today's Daily Telegraph, informs us that having returned from a holiday in Thailand, she realised how far she was from the UK when reading a headline in the Bankok Post "Coalition set to clash over palm oil crisis".

Never mind about IDave and Nick not having a palm oil crisis to worry about, Bryony - what about the people of this country having to worry about those two snake oil salesmen?

Just a thought.........

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Apologies but am out all day till extremely late and have early meeting tomorrow morning so further posting will be intermittent until tomorrow pm.

Education, Education, Education

Courtesy of The Albion Alliance Presents we see this from our masters in Brussels.

It seems nation states are unable, left to their own resources, to design and implement quality education and child care and have asked the EU for 'guidance'. Of course, this will be available for all migrant children and 'socially excluded groups' like the Roma.

I don't know about anyone else, but I find the picture especially 'chilling' in content and 'message'!

Never mind about a lack of eDemocracy - what about a lack of democracy?

An article on ePolitix comments on the lack of a UK strategy for eDemocracy, noting that:
".....the government is revamping its ePetitions system, and is linking them to parliamentary procedures so that those with over 100,000 signatories will be guaranteed a Commons debate, and the most popular being introduced as legislation. One of the most important parts of this plan is that the ePetitions system will be hosted on the government's DirectGov website, and not on the parliamentary site."
Setting to one side the argument that by hosting a petitions system on a government website it assists said government to fulfill its manifesto commitments, is not the House of Commons - as the Legislature - not supposed to act as a constraint on the designs of the Executive?

Therefore should not petitions from the public be submitted to those who are, supposedly, elected to represent the public?

Just asking.......................

Whichever way this is considered, the aim that the ePetitions system is hosted on a government website is no more than a further example of what I have termed 'Democratised Dictatorship'!

The Purple Scorpion's tail doth indeed have a sting

The Purple Scorpion, a website that should be on everyone's blogroll, posts on the wind swindle and  inks to an article in the Mail relating the tribulations of Johnny Ball - father of DJ Zoe - and that of David Bellamy. The PS also links to an article by the scourge of the 'warmists', James Delingpole.

From the Mail we learn that both the incomes of Ball and Bellamy have suffered because of their beliefs. Ball cannot get a ten-minute meeting with the Controller of Radio4 and Bellamy cannot get an appearance on television.

As the PS states at the end of his post, North remarks in a different context that our parents "told the élites where to get off". We, he says, have to learn how do the same.

To which I can but add - the sooner the better!

Localism - Is it a dream or could it be reality?

An article by Paul Goodman appears on Conservative Home, entitled "The Limits of Localism" - to which a reply by Matthew Sinclair of the Tax Payers Alliance has also appeared - and both articles are worth reading.

Much has been made of 'devolving power' and 'localism' by Jeremy Clarkson's lesser-known neighbour yet while all the ideas that are coming from the Coalition on those two subjects remain driven and directed by central government, the benefits of devolving power to the people and localism remain as distant as they were.

Unfortunately until our national politicians can accept the principles, outlined by Thomas Jefferson, that local authorities can best govern our home concerns and Westminster our foreign ones, then I feel we will never have true devolution of power, nor localism - and that Cameron's idea of a BS really is nothing but BullS**t!

Just saying...................

Monday, 21 February 2011

Chaytor 'sprung' from Wandsworth Prison (2)

On the 30th January I posted briefly about a report in the Mail which stated that David Chaytor had been moved to an open prison with what was described as 'indecent haste'. I have today received a response (in two parts) from Steve Gorman, Head of Briefing & Casework Unit, National Offender Management Service at the Ministry of Justice and needless to say the old excuse of disproportionate cost is given by the MoJ for lack of information provided in answer to the questions posed.

With hindsight I now realise there were other questions I could and should have raised - but no doubt these too would have invoked the 'disproportionate cost' response.

I reproduce the text of both letters below for reader's interest:

Letter 1:
"Thank you for your email of 30 January in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

The Mail on Sunday today reports that David Chaytor has been transferred from Wandsworth Prison (Category B) to Spring Hill Prison (Category D) in Buckinghamshire and that according to a source of the newspaper Chaytor "was treated like a celebrity and processed with astonishing speed".
I would be grateful if you would advise:
(i) For what 'area' does Spring Hill prison cater - or does it accept prisoner transfers from any prison in Great Britain?
(ii) Was Chaytor treated any differently from other prisoners, in any manner whatsoever, during his time in Wandsworth?
(iii) Was Chaytor's transfer expedited and if so for what reason(s)?
(iv) How many prisoners were eligible for transfer to Spring Hill prison and on which decisions had been taken, but no transfer made, at the time of Chaytor's move.
 (v) The newspaper stated that prior to transfer to an open prison prisoners have to undergo extensive assessments. What are these assessments, how many subjects are considered and the nature of their content; what is the normal timescale of these assessments from start to finish?
(vi) Did Chaytor undergo every stage of the assessment process, or were some omitted - and if so, for what reason(s)?
As I have explained in my other letter to you, section 84 of the Act states that in order for a request for information to be handled as a Freedom of Information request, it must be for recorded information. I have assessed your correspondence and since questions (i), (ii), (iii) and (vi) ask more general questions, they have not been handled under the Act on this occasion.  I shall instead address these questions below.

(i) Spring Hill is a category D open prison with a resettlement regime. Its purpose is to prepare prisoners for release by addressing, accommodation, employment, vocational training and offending behaviour needs. The prison accepts category D prisoners from anywhere within the England and Wales prison estate but primarily those who are looking to resettle in the immediate Thames Valley area.

(ii) A key principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 is that personal data must not be disclosed to other parties without the consent of the individual whom it is about, unless there is legislation or other overriding legitimate reason to share the information (for example, the prevention or detection of crime). I therefore cannot comment on any individual prisoner’s circumstances, though I can reply in general terms. Prison staff are absolutely committed to treating all those in their care decently, humanely and with respect. In addition, the Prison Service is committed to treating all prisoners equally irrespective of their background, race, religion, sexual orientation etc. Wandsworth does have a ‘high profile prisoner protocol’ which does differentiate high profile media related prisoners from others but this does not mean that they are treated differently – in essence it simply means that senior management within the establishment are informed of these individuals’ presence within the prison to ensure that all media-related issues are dealt with appropriately.

(iii) It is important to understand that, as a local prison, Wandsworth has a responsibility to re-categorise convicted prisoners as quickly as possible and move them into suitable accommodation. In addition to this, the Prison Service has a responsibility to place prisoners in the lowest security category consistent with the needs of security and control.  Again, though I cannot comment on the specifics of this case, what I can say is that all prisoner transfers are dealt with fairly and objectively by means of an assessment based upon offence-related issues.

(vi) For the reasons that I have explained above, it would not be appropriate to go into detail about what assessments individual prisoners have or have not had, other than to stress that all prisoners moved to open conditions must have been assessed as suitable for a category D prison.

I hope the above is helpful and reassures you that Wandsworth and Spring Hill prisons and indeed the Prison Service more generally is committed to treating all prisoners equally and in accordance with both the law and established procedures.

Yours sincerely,
Steve Gorman"
Letter 2:

"Thank you for your email of 30 January in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

The Mail on Sunday today reports that David Chaytor has been transferred from Wandsworth Prison (Category B) to Spring Hill Prison (Category D) in Buckinghamshire and that according to a source of the newspaper Chaytor "was treated like a celebrity and processed with astonishing speed".
I would be grateful if you would advise:
(i) For what 'area' does Spring Hill prison cater - or does it accept prisoner transfers from any prison in Great Britain?
(ii) Was Chaytor treated any differently from other prisoners, in any manner whatsoever, during his time in Wandsworth?
(iii) Was Chaytor's transfer expedited and if so for what reason(s)?
(iv) How many prisoners were eligible for transfer to Spring Hill prison and on which decisions had been taken, but no transfer made, at the time of Chaytor's move.
 (v) The newspaper stated that prior to transfer to an open prison prisoners have to undergo extensive assessments. What are these assessments, how many subjects are considered and the nature of their content; what is the normal timescale of these assessments from start to finish?
(vi) Did Chaytor undergo every stage of the assessment process, or were some omitted - and if so, for what reason(s)?
I should explain that section 84 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) states that in order for a request for information to be handled as a Freedom of Information request, it must be for recorded information. For example, a Freedom of Information request would be for a copy of an human resources (HR) policy, rather than an explanation as to why we have that policy in place. On occasion, the department receives requests for information that do not ask for a copy of recorded information, but ask more general questions about, for example, a policy or a decision. I have assessed your correspondence and since questions (i), (ii), (iii) and (vi) were of that nature, they have not been handled under the Act on this occasion.  Consequently I shall address those questions under separate cover.

Turning to the questions which do fall under the Act (iv and v), which is for recorded information, your request for this information has been handled under the FoIA and passed to me because I have responsibility for answering requests that relate to individual prisoners and prison establishments in England and Wales.

With regard to question (iv), you asked how many prisoners were eligible for transfer to Spring Hill prison and on which decisions had been taken, but no transfer made, at the time of Mr Chaytor's move. I can confirm that the MoJ holds the information you have requested. However, it is exempt by virtue of section 12 as it would be too costly to provide this information to you.

To provide you with the exact details of how many prisoners were eligible for transfer to Spring Hill prison and on which decisions had been taken, but no transfer made, at the time you stipulated would far exceed the £600 limit under section 12 of the FOIA. Section 12 (1) of the FOIA makes provision for public authorities to refuse requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed the appropriate limit, which for central government is set at £600. This represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3.5 days in locating, retrieving and extracting the information.

Question (iv) of your request does not specify a location for those prisoners eligible for transfer to Spring Hill but, given the nature of the remainder of your request, it is assumed that you are seeking these details solely in respect of those held at Wandsworth prison. However, as this information is not held centrally, to provide it even in respect of only those held at Wandsworth would require the establishment to check the individual records of all prisoners there who had a re-categorisation review.  For the last year, this would involve recovering and checking each of 1257 prisoner files, which it is estimated would incur disproportionate costs.  

I am sorry but on this occasion I am unable to advise you as to how to narrow your request to bring it within the cost limit.

However, outside of the Act, I am pleased to provide you with the following information in response to question (v) of your request.  You have asked about the assessments undertaken prior to a prisoner being transferred to open conditions.  Prisoners may only be transferred to open prisons once they have been assessed as suitable for category D security status; that is, the categorisation process has deemed them to be someone who can be reasonably trusted in open conditions.  

There is no specified timescale for the initial categorisation of adult male prisoners, since each prisoner’s case will be different and will require the consideration of documentation and reports relevant to that individual. However, the initial categorisation process must completed as soon after they have been sentenced as is practical using the ICA1 (Initial Categorisation Assessment 1) form.  The categorisation section consists of an algorithm, using as its database brief details of the current offence, sentence, previous convictions and custodial sentences (especially for sexual offences and/or violence) and previous escapes, escape attempts or absconds. Once completed the algorithm will indicate a provisional security category.  Prison staff must then either indicate that the provisional security category applies, or recommend that it be overridden as a result of control considerations or other factors. These reasons could relate either to matters not covered by the algorithm (e.g. a previous sentence successfully served in an open prison, or a known tendency to violence by an apparently minor offender), or to an unusual combination of factors which produces an obviously unreasonable result from the algorithm.

Categorisation and allocation of prisoners is a critical task. Effectively assigning prisoners to the correct security category and allocating them to an appropriate prison helps to ensure that they do not present a risk of harm to the public, or of escape or abscond, or threaten the control of establishments. It also means that prisoners are not held in conditions of security higher than are necessary. Categorisation, re-categorisation and allocation are also vital to the sentence management of prisoners. The correct categorisation and allocation, balancing security issues and the needs of the prisoner, helps prisoners to use their sentences constructively, to tackle their offending behaviour and to prepare for release.

With the passage of time or changes in circumstances, prisoners may become more or less of a risk to the public and/or more or less likely to escape. Therefore, in addition to prisoners’ initial categorisation, regular reviews of prisoners’ security categorisation take place to help ensure that prisoners continue to be held in conditions commensurate with the risks they pose.  These reviews should take place at regular intervals or whenever there is a significant change in their circumstances. The matters which are relevant to a re-categorisation review are the same as those for an initial categorisation.  The aim of the re-categorisation review is to use this information to establish whether there has been any clear change in the risk the prisoner poses.  The review of a prisoner’s security category must take place on a Re-categorisation Form (RC1) and the panel, board or governor undertaking the review must consult the prisoner’s custodial file, warrants and any pre-sentence reports, sentence planning documentation form where available, any security information held on the individual, and any end of course reports completed after offending behaviour programmes.

The allocation of prisoners to training establishments following conviction forms a process distinct from categorisation, though the two procedures often take place on the same day. While the main factor to be considered in determining a prisoner’s allocation must always be his security category, and a prisoner who has been assigned to a particular security category should initially be considered for allocation to a prison designed for that category, account must also be taken of: his suitability for particular types of accommodation (factors such as vulnerability, age, etc); his medical and/or psychiatric needs that may require a particular type of level or care; his need for identified offence related behavioural programmes to confront assessed risk; his home area, or that of his likely visitors; his educational or training needs or potential; and the published allocation criteria for individual establishments’ resettlement needs.  The decision reached must be justifiable and must be recorded on the prisoner’s ICA1/RC1.

As part of our obligations under the FOIA, the MoJ has an independent review process.  If you are dissatisfied with the information provided, you may write to request an internal review. The internal review will be carried out by someone who did not provide the original material, and they will re-assess how the Department handled the original request.
If you wish to request an internal review, please write to the Data Access and Compliance Unit within two months of the date of this letter, at the following address:
Data Access and Compliance Unit
Information Directorate
Ministry of Justice
6th Floor
Zone B
102 Petty France

Should you remain dissatisfied following an internal review decision, you have the right to apply to the Information Commissioner’s Office under Section 50 of the FOIA for a decision.  You can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office at the following address:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Yours sincerely,

Steve Gorman"