Action Alert: Freedom for Ben Gayton

About Ben:

Ben is an IPP who has served over 8 years on a 17 month tariff. He was recalled in January 2017 for a crime he did not commit, and since then the prison system has been obstructing his release. He was given unconditional bail but the parole board intervened and he was remanded in custody. All charges were dropped in November 2017 – he was an innocent man.

Ben was then given a parole hearing date for 10th April 2018. On the day, it was deferred because the CPS hadn’t met their deadline to provide the reports. Parole also decided on the day that the arresting officer should be present and that Ben was to see a psychologist (none of this had been mentioned before). The hearing was deferred till July but Ben didn’t get a hearing until December.

At his parole hearing in December, Ben was knocked back, even though his probation officer, psychologist and inside probation were all recommending release. The panel was inexperienced, and did not spend much time questioning Ben. The probation officer was visibly nervous and did not give very good answers, despite Ben having complied with all the previous parole board’s requirements.

Ben has been told he will have to wait until December 2019 to go for parole again.

There are no courses Ben can do to prove he is safe to be released because he has committed no crime. He has been told to attain ‘enhanced’ prisoner status, but he already has, and to have no adjudications, when he has none. His psychologist refuses to complete another report on him, as she says he should be released. All of this leaves Ben in a Catch 22 situation.

Ben has a partner and 3 young children aged 2, 4 and 5. They need him home. Every day that Ben spends on this inhumane sentence is wrecking both his and his family’s lives.

What you can do:

Write to the governor of HMP Lancaster Farms, the Chair of the Parole Board and CEO of Blackpool Probation Service to demand that they give Ben another parole hearing as soon as possible, with a better panel. You can find a template letter below but we recommend you put it into your own words if possible as it will have more of an impact.

Please let Smash IPP know if you’ve written to them so we know people are responding and fighting for Ben.

 

Template letter:

Dear ………………….

I am writing with concern about prisoner Ben Gayton (A8095AG) who is currently in HMP Lancaster Farms.

Ben is an IPP who has served over 8 years on a 17 month tariff. He was recalled in 2017 on a charge which was later dropped as he was innocent. Since then he has been failed by the system at every step.

In December 2018 Ben had a parole knock back, even though his probation officer, psychologist and inside probation were all recommending release. The panel was inexperienced and cut Ben off when he was speaking. They have asked the psychologist to do another report on Ben but she has refused as she thinks he should be released. There are no suitable courses for Ben as he has committed no crime. He has been told to gain enhanced, which he already has, and to have no adjudications when he has none. This leaves Ben in a Catch 22 situation.

Ben has been told he will have a parole hearing next December. This is not soon enough. This inhumane sentence is destroying his life, and his partner and 3 young children’s lives. They need him home now.

Please take action to ensure Ben has a new parole hearing as soon as possible, with a better panel.

I look forward to your written response confirming that you will take action to put Ben on the path to freedom.

Yours sincerely……………

CC Ben Gayton

Please write recorded delivery to:

Derek Harrison, Management Coordinator, HMP Lancaster Farms, Stone Row Head, Off Quernmore Road, Lancaster LA1 3QZ.

And also write to:

Caroline Corby, 3rd floor, 10 South Collonade, London E14 4PU and/or chair@paroleboard.gov.uk

Sonia Turner, Blackpool Probation Office, 384 Talbot Rd, Blackpool FY3 7AT.

Send carbon copies of all the letters to: Ben Gayton A8095AG, HMP Lancaster Farms, Stone Row Head, Off Quernmore Road, Lancaster LA1 3QZ.