Prisons and Probations Ombudsman Guilty of Maladministration Against Kevan Thakrar
Report by the Parliamentary Ombudsman to Mr lain Stewart MP of an investigation into a complaint made by Mr Kevan Thakrar 29 June 2012
1. Mr Thakrar complained that the Prisons and Probations Ombudsman failed to carry out an adequate investigation of his complaint about an alleged assault at HMP Woodhill.
2. For reasons I will go on to explain, I uphold Mr Thakrar's complaint. I find that the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman's handling of Mr Thakrar's complaint was maladministrative. I have set out below my recommendations to remedy the injustice caused to Mr Thakrar by this maladministration.
23. At the time of the events in question Mr Thakrar was detained in HMP Woodhill. (Mr Thakrar moved to Whitemoor and then Frankland in 2009, and spent a brief period at Wakefield in 2010 before returning to Wood hill later that year.) He said he was unhappy with the treatment he had been receiving from his senior officer and that he had made a complaint to the prison that he was being bullied.
Mr Thakrar says that on 31 May 2008 several officers entered his cell, apparently to issue him with a warning under the prison's Incentive and Earned Privileges scheme (IEP) (paragraphs 19 to 21). He said that he was assaulted by the officers and sustained several injuries as a result. According to the officers' account of the alleged incident, Mr Thakrar was restrained because he was behaving aggressively. Mr Thakrar was taken to the segregation unit where he was noted to have minor injuries.
80. I recommend that the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman write to Mr Thakrar within four weeks of the date of this report, and apologise to him for the way they handled his complaint, and for the misleading and contradictory information they provided him about the scope of their investigation.
81. I am acutely aware of how important it is for Mr Thakrar that the alleged assault be investigated. And I have considered very carefully whether or not that would be an appropriate outcome to my investigation. The passage of time, the likelihood that the prison officers could now recollect events in any detail, together with the lack of physical and CCTV evidence, means that any investigation could be inconclusive. (Even a more timely investigation might have been inconclusive. I understand that there is no dispute that Mr Thakrar was subjected to 'control and restraint' techniques by prison staff. The question of whether he was assaulted turns on whether the force used was justifiable.) Mr Thakrar understands this but remains very keen for an investigation to be undertaken because he believes that the post traumatic stress disorder (paragraph 60) he says he is suffering from was caused by the incident.
82. For these reasons I recommend that the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman investigate the alleged assault, as they initially led Mr Thakrar to believe they would do. I expect them to investigate this on the same basis as they would have done in 2009 when the issue was complained about. Mr Thakrar has identified possible evidence-gathering opportunities which might be useful in the investigation. I recommend that the scope of the investigation, and a timescale for its completion, is agreed with Mr Thakrar within four weeks of the date of issue of this report.
83. This report on the results of the investigation of Mr Thakrar's complaint has been approved and signed by me, acting within the power of the Ombudsman delegated to me under section 3(2) of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.
Director of Parliamentary Investigations
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