Peaceful demonstration marred by allegations of police brutality [HMP Holloway, 9 July 2007]

From Pauline B Campbell
Prison-death demonstration – Monday 9 July 2007
to protest against the death of Marie Cox, aged 34
who died on 30 June 2007 in the ‘care’ of HMP and YOI Holloway, London
– the 25th demonstration to be held outside women’s prisons in England since protests began in 2004
Alleged police brutality at demonstration An ugly incident took place outside HMP Holloway. Legal advice will be sought following allegations of police brutality. Pauline Campbell, and another woman protester (an OAP), were pulled, pushed, and dragged, by male police officers. At one point, protesters alleged Pauline Campbell was ‘thrown to the ground’ by a large policeman; protesters reckoned he was about 16 stone.
Prison van driver’s aggressive driving (Serco) Earlier in the afternoon, in a separate incident, a Serco prison van arrived at the jail, was signalled to halt, and the vehicle stopped. Protester Pauline Campbell was positioned immediately in front of the vehicle, but several times the driver started moving the vehicle slowly forward, until the van was about two inches away from making bodily contact. The manner of driving was potentially dangerous, and appeared to be designed to intimidate protesters.
* Around 25 protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside Holloway Prison, during the afternoon of Monday 9 July 2007, to protest against the tragic death of Marie Cox, 34, who died in the care of HMP & YOI Holloway on 30 June 2007.
* The four and a half hour demonstration was attended by protesters from Yorkshire, Cheshire, and London, including representatives from FRFI London (Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!); ‘No More Prison’; and the Crossroads Women’s Centre, London.
* Marie Cox is the sixth woman to die in prison in the first half of this year – double the figure for the whole of last year (three women prisoners died in 2006).
* Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP, Islington North, was sent details of the demonstration, but did not respond to the invitation to attend the protest.
* Local reporters and photographers attended the demonstration.
* At 5.10 pm, Serco prison van BX54 YNC, arrived at the prison entrance. Protesters blocked entry. The driver tried to intimidate protesters by driving his vehicle slowly forward towards Pauline Campbell, stopping about two inches short of making bodily contact. After a few minutes, he gave up, turned the vehicle round, and left the main prison entrance. He then entered the jail via another entrance and, as his vehicle reached the prison building, protesters repositioned and again blocked entry.
* At around 5.20 pm an all-male police contingent arrived: constables 649, 463, 533 and 332. Police action enabled the prison van to enter the building, but the manner in which this was achieved was completely unacceptable. No-one was arrested, and no-one was cautioned, but two policemen used brute force against two female protesters (both grieving mothers, and one an OAP) – Pauline Campbell, and pensioner Mrs Gwen Calvert. Mrs Calvert is the bereaved mother of Paul Calvert who died in the ‘care’ of HMP Pentonville in 2004.
* An official complaint will be lodged with the Metropolitan Police following this ugly incident. Protesters allege Pauline Campbell was ‘thrown to the ground’ by PC 649, readily identified by his size (around 16 stone) and bearing a large tattoo on one arm. Mrs Calvert then stepped forward to protest about his treatment of Pauline Campbell. PC 649 then grabbed Mrs Calvert by the arm, pulled her away, and bodily lifted her off the ground, and carried her to the pavement. He then pushed her roughly, which could easily have resulted in a fall. PC 463 then grabbed Pauline Campbell, and dragged her out of the path of the van. All this was captured on moving film and stills (time coded camera), and was witnessed by eight people (a number of protesters had left by this time). Mrs Calvert, from East London, complained to officers about police behaviour and ‘bully’ tactics.
* At 5.35 pm, shortly before leaving the jail, Pauline Campbell spoke to PCs 649 and 463 and informed them that protesters believed an assault had taken place against two female protesters (Gwen Calvert and Pauline Campbell), and that the matter would be reported.
* Before leaving, protesters left bouquets of flowers and a memorial placard outside the jail in memory of Marie Cox.

One thought on “Peaceful demonstration marred by allegations of police brutality [HMP Holloway, 9 July 2007]

  1. Anonymous

    “Deaths of women prisoners: Thirty-eight women prisoners, including Marie Cox, have died since my daughter’s death in 2003. Prison-death demonstrations continue to be an important way of raising public awareness about this shameful death toll, but yesterday’s peaceful protest was marred by the behaviour of two male police officers, and the prison van driver.
    “Prison van driver: aggressive/dangerous driving: A number of incidents at prison-death demonstrations appear to confirm a worrying pattern, where prison van drivers drive at protesters in an aggressive and dangerous manner. The incident at Holloway Prison on 9 July 2007 merely confirms this disturbing trend. Following an incident at another jail – HMP Styal, 13 June 2007 – Inspector McDonnell, Cheshire Constabulary, took the complaint seriously, and spoke to the driver and the prison governor. Protesters were satisfied that the Inspector dealt with the incident properly. In marked contrast, Met police officers appeared to disregard protesters’ complaints about the prison van driver at Holloway Prison yesterday (9 July 2007).
    “Police behaviour captured on film: Before leaving London, I watched a playback of the footage filmed by a journalist which, in my opinion, confirmed the use of excessive force used by two male police officers. This alleged brutality, used against two women, is a serious matter, which I will discuss with my lawyer when I receive a copy of the footage later this week.
    “Protesters attending peaceful demonstrations should not be subjected to unnecessary risk, intimidation or brutality, but if the police are part of the problem it is difficult to know where to turn for help. Yesterday felt like a mauling.” [Pauline Campbell]
    (Figures refer to apparently self-inflicted deaths; England & Wales)
    Pauline Campbell
    [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

    Awaiting criminal trial at North Avon Magistrates’ Court: 26/27 September 2007
    “Abuse of process” hearing – North Avon Magistrates’ Court: 20 August 2007
    Assault on Pauline Campbell at Holloway: story and pictures


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