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Embargo till Monday, 7 December 11 am

Contact: Sam Weinstein, Payday men’s network: 07947609429

Almost 60 organisations demand that RCP stop endorsing cruel and inhumane prison segregation units

A letter demanding that the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) withdraw the “Enabling Environment” it is awarding to prison Close Supervision Centres (CSCs) – segregation units – will be presented to the RCP by a socially distanced delegation on 7 December 2020.

The letter was signed by nearly 60 organizations and 200 individuals, including Prof. Angela Davis, author and anti-racist campaigner Selma James, former Chief Inspector of Prisons Lord Ramsbotham, miscarriage of justice victim Winston Silcott, Prof. Benjamin Zephaniah and a number of practicing psychiatrists.

The open letter is being co-ordinated by Legal Action for Women and Payday men’s network (which includes survivors of solitary confinement) in association with current and former prisoners and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Victoria Childs.

The RCP describe “Enabling Environments”: as places with “a positive and effective social environment”. Prisoners say they are locked in their cells for up to 24 hours a day, fed through a hatch and isolated from family and outside support. Prisoners report attacks from guards who have then faced no punishment and complain that there is no transparent process to decide who is placed in the CSS and therefore “no way out”.

As 50% of prisoners held in CSCs are Muslim, while the Muslim population of the UK is under 5%, it must be assumed that institutionalised racism is also at play.

Kevan Thakrar, who has been held in a CSC for over 10 years says:


The brutality inflicted upon the prisoners within [CSCs] exceeds all other prison environments in the UK, and they cause the majority of its residents to develop major mental illness requiring treatment within the secure hospitals.”

This level of confinement and deprivation of contact with other human beings in CSCs is comparable to “solitary confinement”. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture called for “an absolute prohibition” of “indefinite and prolonged solitary confinement in excess of 15 days”. Amnesty International say CSCs are “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

One survivor of solitary confinement in Payday men’s network commented:


“Solitary confinement works to destroy your sense of existence, of belonging, and of the meaning of life. The scar is left so deep in the mind that the consequences will be carried with me for the rest of my life.” Khalfan al-Badwawi,

In a separate initiative, the Guardian newspaper reported in June this year that over 100 psychiatrists have signed a letter to the RCP “urging it to root out institutional racism and a colonial mentality in the profession”.