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Free Kevan Thakrar – End solitary confinement in the UK!

On Monday 9th March, the Incarcerated Workers Organising Committee (IWOC) have called a protest outside the Royal College of Psychiatrists to mark the 10 years that IWOC member Kevan Thakrar has spent in Close Supervision Centres within the British prison system.

Close Supervisions Centres (CSCs) are the most extreme form of imprisonment in the UK, modelled on the ‘supermax’ prisons in the United States. People held in CSCs are often kept apart from others, allowed out of their cells for only a short time each day and denied basic human contact. Kevan is regularly held in his cell for 23 hours per day and is prevented from speaking with other prisoners. Numerous studies and papers have pointed out the severe damage solitary confinement can cause for those placed in it. To quote from a paper in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law: ‘psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture’.

In spite of this, the Royal College of Psychiatrists has accredited some Close Supervision Centres as “Enabling Environments”, providing legitimacy to these violent units.

On Monday, IWOC will gather outside the the Royal College of Psychiatrists to demand that he is immediately released from the CSC system and that the RCP stops providing a cover for human rights abuses in the prison system.

In solidarity with Kevan’ struggle for freedom, we are republishing a piece he wrote for the IWOC blog on ‘The Birth of Close Supervision Centres”. For more information about Kevan’s case and what you can do to help, please visit:

The Birth of Close Supervision Centres

When the Conservative party took control of the country in 2010, the so-called justice system was struggling to maintain the facade that it was fair, equal or anything else positive (which is prohibited by its design). It cannot be said to be a flawed design, since it achieves exactly what it intends in oppressing the poor, lower classes, and non-white population whilst enabling the privileged to exploit them with impunity. The cuts that followed made the situation even worse, injustice becoming the norm for all affected in any way by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). 

As has always been the case, those suffering the greatest oppression are the unfortunate victims of the Injustice System who end up imprisoned. Within this group, there are greater and greater degrees of oppression, ranging from the privileged few who are allocated to cushy Category D open prisons automatically, all the way up to maximum security Category A prisons. Beyond this, is the Clos Supervision Centre (CSC) system which is reserved for around 50 prisoners to receive the harshest and most brutal treatment.

The one good thing that any Conservative Secretary of State for Justice has done since taking power has been to sack the sadistic failure of the Prisons and Probation Service, director Michael Spurr. This animal was personally responsible for the creation of the CSC system, having previously been in charge of running the Continuous Assessment Scheme (CAS) whereby prisoners were transferred from segregation to segregation every 30 days. Once it became obvious that the CAS could no longer be maintained due to being in gross violation of all basic minimum standards, Spurr took on a project to find a way to enable the torture of the prisoners hated most by those running the MoJ.

‘The Spurr Report,’ published in February 1996 as a restricted policy document with the sub-heading ‘Management of Disruptive Prisoners — CRC Revival Project,’ paved the way. CRC stood for ‘Control Review Committee,’ and control is exactly what they have been about, although control of the individual rather than the system as a whole. One paragraph of this report makes the intent of the CSC clear for all to see: 

[…] It is potentially important to recognise the potential introduction of the proposed new regimes in CSCs as a ‘natural experiment’ in which we can learn more about the response of hostile, disruptive and often personality disordered individuals to structured intervention. Achieving lifetime changes in personality,  thinking and behaviour will take several years. Also, these men may be serving long sentences and some may never be released. Outcome measures will need to focus on personality, thinking and institutional adjustment rather than subsequent offending in the community […]

This ‘experiment’ of subjecting men to extreme psychological torture through permanent detention in inhumane conditions surrounded by mentally ill prisoners, operated by massive amounts of prison officers outnumbering the prisoners, with the stated objective to destroy the personality of those allocated CSC status, has been functioning since 1998. As Spurr rose through the management to become overall leader, he ensured funds were pumped into this ‘experiment,’ even through the crisis caused by governmental budget cuts. Hopefully now that he has gone, this illegal use of taxpayers money which could be much better spent elsewhere will end.

Having now spent ten years detained within the CSC, I can confirm that every victim of this sadistic ‘experiment’ has been harmed with often devastating effect. Some men have seriously self-harmed, some self-mutilated, others have been driven totally insane. Suicide has occurred disproportionately. Expendable to discover the ‘outcome measures’…

The CSC needs to be terminated, if not for humanitarian measures then because it is simply not affordable. The disgraced inventor has gone, surely now is the time for his creation to follow. His replacement has an impossible job in attempting to clean-up the disgusting mess he’s left behind, the best place to start has got to be the most inhumane. The psychologists used to legitimise the system would be much better utilised elsewhere at a time where a lack of psychological assessments is commonly cited as justification to delay the release of those due for parole, and the financial resources could be used to plug some of the gaps causing a breakdown in the prison system. 

The CSC looks like a punishment, sounds like a punishment, feels like a punishment, but Spurr made clear that under no circumstances should the CSC be said to be aiming to punish. He wrote:

“This point is crucial and will be the basis of our defence in any judicial review…If the proposals outlined above are adopted, it is inevitable that there will be a legal challenge and judicial review is likely.”

So this scumbag knew he had designed an ‘experiment’ which was not lawful from the start, creating propaganda to accompany it to enable its existence. Michael Spurr’s repulsive character is clear for all to see from his invention, only if his successor puts a stop to the CSC could they be said to be any better. 

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