The Sham They Call Probation

My Story Since Release

I will tell you about my case and how the so called British Justice System failed me another time, as I need you to know about the sham they call Probation.

After serving nearly 10 years behind the door after being convicted on false allegations, I was finally released by the Parole Board on 13th November 2017.

It is important to mention at this point that my parole dossier said two months in a Approved Premises (Probation Hostel). When questioned by the Parole Board as to what happens after the two months, Probation told them they would refer me to a Homeless Charity, the head of the Parole Board was understandably disgusted by this and said for a life sentence prisoner (I got a 6 year IPP) having served 10 years to be put out on the street after on two months was NOT acceptable. The final agreement was three months to be reviewed after two.

So, I was released on the 13th November and sent to an Approved Premises in Brighton (I have never been to Brighton in my life).  A week before Christmas I was told my place at the hostel was coming to an end and I had to be out by the 13th January and if i didn’t have somewhere to go that had been approved by Probation I would be street homeless, because of the Christmas Holidays I was unable to chase any of the properties etc that I had been looking at.

 

On the Thursday the day before I was due to be thrown out of the hostel I was in town when I got a call off of my Probation Officer asking where I was and what I was doing, I promptly told her I was on my way to go and see a solicitor as, if I was made street homeless I believed that Probation would say they were unable to monitor me and therefore I would be a risk to the public and recall me back to prison.

Within an hour of this conversation I was told that a senior Probation Officer was trying to find me a placement in another Approved Premises.

I spoke to the manager of the Brighton AP and got him to extend my stay until the Monday.

On the Friday morning I had an appointment in Newhaven to meet a charity from Lewes called Homelink Lewes who give interest free loans to people in the Lewes area who are at risk of homelessness to help with bonds and Rent in advanced. I was assessed by them there and then and offered a £1000 interest free loan to help me avoid homelessness.

On the the Friday  afternoon I  had a call from Probation telling me I had to leave the AP by 10am on Monday 15th January and I had to be a Guildford Probation office by 11.30am. I told her I had a property viewing and I had to sign on at the Job Centre in Brighton that morning and was promptly told to cancel the viewing and not to worry about signing on. (that’s OK for her to say) so, as I had hired a car to make the move because I have a lot of paperwork relating to my pending appeal, I contacted the Job Centre who were very understanding and moved my signing to the next day so once I returned the car I could then sign on. I also contacted the estate agent and moved the viewing to the following day.

So on Monday 15th I attended the Probation office in Guildford as instructed and waited in their waiting room for an hour and half (convinced I was about to be recalled) and eventually was told I had a place in the Guildford Probation Hostel till the following Friday 19th. This of course would then mean I am not entitled to the £1000 interest free loan from Homelink and I am now in Surrey and not Sussex.

I left probation and went to the hostel.

The following morning I left early to go back to Brighton to return the car and sign on. I met the estate agent to view the “Studio Flat” (which turned out to be a compact and bijou bedsit) at £525 per month. The estate agent told me that is wasn’t now available on the following Friday as advertised because there was a two week delay in the person moving out.

I returned to the Guildford AP, and the following day rang Probation and submitted the address to the “Studio Flat” for them to approve, and spent the next few days desperately trying to find somewhere to live in Brighton and submitted  two further addresses to Probation to be authorised.

On the Following Friday morning I was given a letter by the hostel to give to the council stating I was now homeless, and was given a rail warrant (at my request) to Brighton. I was told I had to attend Guildford Probation Office before boarding the train to Brighton. Because I couldn’t afford to hire another car to move my things and because I was being made homeless, I left all my property and the AP agreed to store it for me in the short term in their garage, so I left with the clothes I was stood up in and my laptop bag.

Probation told me they had approved the “Studio Flat” as the Police PPU (Public Protection Unit) had spoken to the estate agent and as it was self contained it was OK.

On attending the Guildford Probation office I was told they had found another hostel for me till the following Friday 26th but this time it was in Basildon Essex, and was given a new rail warrant to get their.

I was in the Territorial Army many years ago and one of the residents in the Brighton AP told me that I may be able to get some help from SSAFA as so long as you have done one paid day in the forces they are able to help, So I had applied online and out of the blue I had a call from Graham the SSAFA rep in Brighton and he made an appointment for me to see him on the following Monday in Brighton to sign the papers giving him the authority to pull me service record.

Photo of Basildon AP removed at the request of Probation.

I arrived at the AP in Basildon  and spent the weekend looking for other properties online in the Brighton Area as a back up in cased the “Studio Flat” fell through.  On the Monday morning I left early for Brighton for my appointment to see Graham from SSAFA. I had my meeting, signed the papers and while in Brighton I phoned around looking for places to live for two weeks till the Studio Flat was available, I tried the backpacker hostels in Brighton and found one with a bed for two weeks in a four bed dorm for £80 per week with a £20 deposit. I phoned this through to probation and was told the manager would not approve it as once I left the Approved Premises I couldn’t go back. So back to Basildon AP.

As it turned out the estate agent stopped taking my calls, I can assume that is because the Police PPU had spoke to them.

My time was up at the Basildon AP on Friday 26th January and at they gave me a letter stating I was homeless to give to the council and a rail warrant to go to Guildford and was told I had to report to my Probation Officer at the Guildford Probation Office.

So train to London, then tube then another train to Guildford, arrived at Probation only to see my Probation Officer for 5 minutes just to be told I was going to an AP in Ipswich for a month and to be give another rail warrant for Ipswich, so……. back through London and off to Ipswich, Why they didn’t give me the rail warrant for Ipswich at the Basildon AP I don’t know.

 

Photo of Ipswich AP removed at the request of probation.

So here I am stuck in Ipswich miles away from where I want to be and every address I give Probation, the address is either unsuitable as it has a shared kitchen or bathroom or the ‘area’ is unsuitable as it has police intelligence on it. What that means god only knows, as the problem is this. Very few landlords will accept housing benefit and the ones that do want home owner guarantors, so the areas that will accept housing benefit aren’t the better areas and tend to be in run down areas where prostitutes and drug dealers live and work there so their is bound to be police intelligence on the AREA!

 

Finally got an address approved but still waiting for Probation to sign it off.

I hope you have been able to follow my journey so far, but I am sure you will agree that four Probation Hostels in four counties in less than three months is hardly the resettlement I was expecting.

Just to add to the above when I got to the Brighton AP I signed on at the Job Centre but because I didn’t have any identification I was unable to open a bank account.

I kept getting calls from the Job Centre telling me they had money for me but was unable to pay it to me as no bank account.   However as no ID, No bank account and no money to pay for my driving licence (£17)

I asked both the Probation Hostel and my Probation Officer if they could at least lend me the £17 I needed to get my licence so I could open a bank account and get my benefits, needless to say they both refused so I ended up borrowing the money from another resident at the Hostel….. THAT JUST SUMS IT UP NICELY!

LATEST UPDATES:

20/02/18 Update: Stay at Ipswich Approved Premises extended 7 days.

21/2/18 Update: Just about to approve address when someone at Probation point out there is a shop near the address where kids hang out, so back on hold till someone from Probation drives the area and decides if an exclusion zone needs to be added to my licence conditions.

22/02/18 UPDATE: Probation Officer not available…. So no news. And as I was typing the phone rang and it was Probation returning my call, told me the Probation manager will visit the area and check suitability on Monday morning. So more waiting, and into another week.

27/02/18 UPDATE: Address not authorised! Again.

1/03/11 UPDATE: Last day here supposed to be out by tomorrow. Nowhere to go could  homeless! Watch this space.

1/03/18 UPDATE: Phone call from probation I am being moved back to the Guildford AP tomorrow.  So I won’t be sleeping in the snow after all. I have however been asked to remove the photos of the Basildon and Ipswich AP’s from this blog post, (I would like to point out these are available online and thats where  got them from).

This blog post has not gone down well with Probation, because I posted photos of the AP’s I have been given a Directors Warning.

I would like to take this opportunity to put the record straight this blog is a true account of whats happened to me since release and is highlighting how I feel the Probation system is letting me down not my Probation Officer as I appreciate they can only work within the parameters set by  the system and have been working hard to keep me off the street.

2/03/18 UPDATE: Now I am back at the Guildford AP, I am here till 1st May unless I can find somewhere to live  in the Brighton area that is approved by Probation.

12/03/18 UPDATE: Went to Brighton today to look at ‘Studio Flat’ It was small, cold and smelt damp, but I decided to take it anyway. I had already given probation the address earlier in the week and still haven’t heard anything.

13/03/18 UPDATE Probation rang to ask what the flat number was and for the landlords name and contact details, I reluctantly gave her them but on the understanding that they did not contact the landlord, if that was a requirement then I wouldn’t take it.

14/03/18 UPDATE Rang to chase up probation to find out what was happening but told both probation officers weren’t in today.

15/03/18 UPDATE: I had a 3pm appointment today with both probation officers so waited to ask what was happening with the property, I was told it was with the police to check but the person dealing with it wasn’t in today and I would probably find out tomorrow.

I was also told that my Directors Final Licence warning had now been issued and asked if I had received it yet, which I haven’t, and was also told that they would be requesting additional licence conditions from the parole board, these are:

  1. At all times, I must behave in a way that is not threatening, disruptive, or in any way offensive. I must not attract harmful attention to the Premises or its residents or staff and/or do anything that could reasonably be regarded as a nuisance to the neighbours.  I must not endanger the health and safety of staff, other residents and/or local neighbours.
  2. Not to influence or promote your current business venture “Failed Justice” to residents of the Approved Premises or visitors to any probation premises.

Firstly I would like to point out I am unhappy with the fact they are referring to “Failed Justice” as a Business Venture and secondly that the above is I would have thought a breach under Article 10 of the Human Rights Act which protect my right to hold my own options and express them freely without government interference.

I will be seeking legal advice.

 

Will keep you posted.

 

MORE UPDATES TO FOLLOW…………. 

 

 

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