The following is a letter to insidetime, from issue April 2010

Playing havoc with incompetence

From Veronica Hyland – HMP Askham Grange

I read with great interest the article ‘Renaissance in Prison Law’ by Ben Gunn in your February issue, in which he says he is convinced that the number of ‘jailhouselawyers’ needs to be increased and suitably equipped with the proper tools.

I am a person with some legal knowledge and when I was taken into custody it very soon became common knowledge among the other prisoners that I had been a solicitor; they were soon coming to me with all sorts of questions and queries, not necessarily relating to law, sometimes just because they considered me to be more intellectually able to answer their questions and queries.

I recently attended a board for full risk assessment to enable me to have child resettlement leave. At the board, the full risk assessment was confirmed and application for child resettlement home leave granted. Whilst at the same board, the chairperson told me she wanted to take the opportunity to raise a concern with me about ‘legal advice I had given to other residents’. When I asked which residents and what legal advice, I was told by the chairperson that she did not know the details but just wanted me to be aware that there were ‘rumblings’ about me giving legal advice to other residents. I pointed out that I am no longer a practicing solicitor, do not have a practicing certificate, and therefore cannot give legal advice.

I am having some difficulties with the prison authorities concerning disability discrimination and I am being very vocal about the issues concerned. Now some of you out there might think that raising ‘concerns’ about advice I may or may not be giving to other residents, that might or might not be considered of a legal nature, , at a board that was specifically for my licence for home leave, a convenient coincidence; then again others of you might consider the fact that I may or may not be a potential thorn in the side of the prison authorities and the thought of me giving support (of whatever nature) to other residents that could also become potential thorns in the side of the prison authorities smacks too much of coincidence, so much so that it might even be considered intimidation, which incidentally is the conclusion reached by others who are not necessarily residents.

As to the prison service and the jailhouselawyer, I would happily lend my own humble weight to try and level the playing field for those of us unfortunate enough to be incarcerated. However, I doubt the prison service is going to greet us with open arms, much less leave us in peace to play havoc with their incompetence.

Back to top

Comments about this letter

13/7/2010 Gordon Smith - -

How long did it take to come to this conclusion? Prison officers are bullies and will use any means whatsoever to coerce prisoners from helping others to point out their incompetence and bullying and to prevent prying eyes into their failings. It is a sad state of affairs to be threatened, but if you help prisoners there is a certainty that you will be labelled as disruptive and subversive. Therefore you have to decide is it worth it for you to help others? The best way to hurt the prison service is to hit them in the pocket and no doubt he has found out that the prison service is institutionally discrimantory especially against the disabled. Every prison has a DLO (Disabled Liaison Officer) some better than others and that prisoners need to be asked how or what adjustments are required for them as individuals and for them to publish how they intend to carry out these adjustments.

Post a comment

Summary of letters in the Mailbag for April 2010
Publicity stunt
Legal duty of care to diabetics
Category eligibility
Sexual activity a reality
Provision of materials for legal action
Cut out the hard luck stories
Current page: Playing havoc with incompetence
Eliminating discrimination
Prisoners’ pay
Visiting order validity period
What do we want from our prisons?
Banned DVDs
Don’t make me laugh
Putting the record straight
Common sense approach refused
DHL monopoly
Meaningless ‘apology’
Fear of wilful headlines
Horse sense
Legal highs – a drugs revolution
The curse of old age
Recall: more transparency needed
Serious ramifications
Dangerous dabblers
If wishes were horses
Haven Distribution
A nice little earner?


Inside Time Latest Issue

Issue : December 2014

Headlines | Mailbag | Poems
Book List | PSI Updates


Back Issues

Back Issues

View backissues and extras

Browse and Search Tools

View headlines by category
Search headlines | All headlines
Search mailbag | All mailbag
Search poems | All poems

December 2014 Headlines
> Treat Prisoners as Human Beings, Not Criminals
> What are prisons for
> A search for any trace of the government’s Rehabilitation Revolution
> Tell us why you did it?... You must be joking I didn’t do it
> Care Act - what does it mean for prisoners
> Doctor Frankenstein and his monster
> Human Rights: truth and lies
> Scapegoating the undeserving poor
> Interview
> The first Miscarriage of Justice
> Month by Month - December 2014
> The 2014 Longford Trust Awards
> Is it all in the mind
> Time
> Learning in prison
> Take your first Steps to Success in 2015
> Spotlight Police and Crime Commissioners
> From over the wall
> Over-tariff IPPs: an appeal for your stories
> Paperwork is the key
> Adjudication - don’t let those days count against you
> Insider Dealing
> Christmas Stories
> Christmas Messages
> Christmas Messages

About Us

About insidetime
Editorial Team

InsidePoetry Book

insidepoetry book New! Volume 5 of
insidepoetry book
is now available!

A collection of poems by prisoners of all backgrounds.

Availabe to buy from this site! Volume 1,2,3 and 4 are also still available and you can SAVE by purchasing bundles!

USP Service

USP from Inside Time

The Useful Services for Prisoners scheme from insidetime provides discounts, vouchers and other benefits from USP Group Members for Prisoners, their families and legal advisors. Click the image above to read more about it.


You can subscribe to insidetime Newspaper and get the paper each month delivered to your door!


Advertise your business or solicitors office to a highly defined target audience.

Other Publications

Inside Time has produced a number of books and publications you can purchase online.


Contact Us

All contact info for the Operations office and the Editorial Team.

Site Map

Our site map page contains links to all pages on the insidetime site.

External Links

We have a number of external websites which you may be interested on our Links Page.

Social Networking


Inside Information


Everything you need to know about visiting people in prison; procedures, opening times, directions etc.

Comprehensive information about each prison regime; lock down times, facilities, healthcare etc.

*NEW* Detailed information about IRC - Immigration Removal Centres.

insideinformation Book

insideinformation book
The insideinformation book

A comprehensive guide to prisons and prison related services, designed and compiled by former prisoners.


Help and Support

Various pages of information for help and support organisations and networks for those in custody as well as recently released. Also information for friends and family.

Grants and Funding

This grants and funding pdf document aims to meet the need of prisoners and ex-offenders for accurate, up to date information on the supplementary funding available to prisoners.

Rules and Regulations

Information on rules & regulations used throughout the prison service.

Glossary of Terms

The Glossary of Prison Related Terms explains what all the acronyms and terms stand for with prison related matters. Includes links to external sites to further explain things.

Fact Sheets

We have produced many Prison Related Fact Sheets inc. Legal Fact Sheets, Parole Fact Sheets and Other related information.


Find a Solicitor

You can search our solicitor database for listings of solicitors in your area that provide the services you require.

Find a Barrister

You can search our barrister database for listings of barristers in your area that provide the services you require.

Address Finder

You can search our address database in many ways to retrieve contact information for all those elusive addresses you need in a hurry.

Prison Law pdf

This document provides details of leading training providers who offer sound professional training.

Other Publications

Inside Information has produced a number of books and publications you can purchase online.

Site Map

Our site map page contains links to all pages on the insideinformation site.

Contact Us

Use the Contact Us Feedback form to send us suggestions, plus our address and phone numbers.



Inside Justice

insidejustice was launched in July 2010 to investigate alleged miscarriages of justice.

Full introduction is on the insidejustice homepage

insidejustice Cases

insidejustice Articles & Reviews

insidejustice Advisory Panel Members

insidejustice Sponsors page

insidejusticecontact details