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Prison watchdog member quits over treatment of governor

Prison watchdog member quits over treatment of governor

Monday 03 August 2020

Prison watchdog member quits over treatment of governor


A member of the Board monitoring HMP La Moye has quit her role over the government’s treatment of its Governor, Express understands.

Rumours began circulating among States Members and on social media in June that Nick Cameron, who took on the post in 2018, was no longer in the leading role.

The Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré, Home Affairs Minister Constable Len Norman, and government officials, all declined to confirm whether or not he remained in post when asked at the time, with the former alluding to an HR “process” which was underway.

The evasive responses fuelled further speculation over a fall-out at the highest levels of the Justice and Home Affairs Department over the prison’s approach to the pandemic.

Then on Friday, the government confirmed that Big Gig founder Caroline Strachan had left the Independent Prison Monitoring Board (IPMB). 

Nick Cameron Prison Governor

Pictured: Nick Cameron, Prison Governor.

The role – which involves keeping a close eye on the premises’ operational conditions, and ensuring that prisoners’ human rights are upheld – normally carries a four-year term. 

However, Express understands that Ms Strachan, who only joined in 2018, abruptly resigned on 16 July over her concerns about the treatment of Mr Cameron, who had apparently sought more PPE and raised other infection control queries. When contacted by Express, she declined to make any comment on the reasons for her resignation.

In the early stages of the pandemic, Mr Cameron oversaw the prison’s virus precautions, which involved ceasing all visits to the prison, changing the prison regime, holding court hearings via video link and isolating prisoners or staff that were vulnerable due to underlying health conditions.

In late April, it was announced that “low-risk” prisoners – excluding sex offenders – may be released early on licence to reduce the prison population in the event of a covid-19 outbreak. However, Constable Len Norman said this option had not yet been used.

lennorman.jpg

Pictured: Home Affairs Minister Constable Len Norman.

A Home Affairs spokesperson said that Mrs Strachan wouldn’t need to be specifically replaced after her sudden departure, as four new members had already been recruited to the review group, just days earlier:

  • Amanda Berry, described as having a “a strong HR background, working for JET and Back to Work”;
  • Peter Bisson, a retired Community Service Supervisor for the Probation Service;
  • Pippa Proctor, an Air Traffic Control Co-ordinator;
  • and Barry  Nolan, an engineer who is project managing Jersey Highways Partnerships work.

While Mr Cameron’s current working status remains shrouded in secrecy, the government told Express that his Deputy, Nick Watkins, remains “in post” and “is not expected to leave…before the end of the year.” 

As questions circulate about leadership and governance at the prison, the IPMB’s 2019 Annual Report containing its findings and suggestions for improvements is still yet to be officially published.

On 11 March this year, the Home Affairs Minister signed off on a Ministerial order to circulate it to States Members and release it into the public domain, but the report is yet to emerge. 

This is despite regulations governing the relationship between the Minister and the IPMB stating that all reports must be shared with politicians “as soon as reasonably practicable”.

Express asked for the report to be released and requested an explanation for the delay. 

Responding this morning, a Home Affairs spokesperson said that there had been an "administrative error" and that "the report is now with the Minister for signing and will then be submitted to the Greffe for publication."

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