An action report of what took place as part of the Women and Trans* Week of Action Against the Prison Industrial Complex. A report of the gathering on the weekend as well as the de-centralised day of action to follow.
On Monday a group of us in Liverpool went into the office of White Young Green, who are Technical Assessors for the North Wales prison project. They reacted by trying to block people in and assaulting those trying to give out leaflets informing the workers of what this company was a part of – how it would cage over 2000 human beings and lead to families being split up, people harming themselves and even taking their own lives.
Just down the road are the offices of GVA Grimley Ltd, who work as consultants for the North Wales prison. Having had people put stickers up saying “This company profits from prison expansion” on their signs a few days before, the security guard was on high alert and joined us in the lift when we arrived. He couldn’t stop the group from entering the office, leafleting and saying on the megaphone how this company’s complicity in the project was disgusting.
Later, a some people did outreach work by leafleting in Liverpool city centre. We had a cage as a prop, and engaged with members of the public. Shouting “Fuck the Police! Fuck the Screws!” we were approached by a person who was the first baby to be born in HMP Styal prison. We also met and spoke to someone who was awaiting trial and facing 15 years in prison. Those who stopped to chat with us and took our leaflets were usually working class people: yuppies need not worry about the prison system affecting their lives. This was obvious as these people tended to ignore our appeals to take information about the campaign against prison expansion and mass incarceration.
We began Tuesday by travelling to HMP Styal for leafleting before prison visiting time. Some good conversations were had despite the Screws trying to disrupt our conversations and threatening to call the police. The Screws even took the leaflets we gave the families (they can’t resist trying to control people – even on the outside). We met one woman who was visiting someone who had also been inside HMP Styal herself. She told us of how a cook had raped anoter woman in the prison while she was there, or as they called it had a “sexual affair” (as if any woman inside really has a choice), and how this woman had 2 years added onto her sentence for this, while the member of staff was just moved somewhere else. Stories like these are an everyday reality in the lives of incarcerated women. It’s disgusting and this is one of many reasons we as women and trans people are fighting for prison abolition. On the way out we ran into the Clink – the prisoner run cafe – and shared some leaflets with the prisoners working there before we went.
We then went on to Warrington and we entered into Faithful & Gould’s offices. They are project management consultants for the North Wales prison. As we were handing out leaflets to staff, we were surprised when the receptionist grabbed one of our group by the hair and tried to drag them to the floor, tearing some of their hair out and making their scalp bleed. Fortunately this person was alright, and we continued to engage with the workers about the company’s role in this brutal project as we were escorted out by the manager and security.
Next we travelled to Runcorn and into Capita Symonds’ office, who are the architects of the prison. Again, quite quickly after entering the office, we were heavy handedly escorted out after informing the whole office on both floors of the company’s involvement in building the prison. We tried to take some of their literature and they didn’t like that – and we soon discovered why. This company is involved in all sorts of dodgy dealings, including working with BAE systems, an arms company known for making a killing from selling weapons to brutal regimes. Capita Symonds were bragging about their client in their literature.