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My work progressed until 2018, when I decided to retire. I continue to be involved in various campaigns for prison reforms, and provide support and advice through social media.
I have recovered from a heart attack, and have a good work life balance.
I Testimony from RAY BISHOP
"I’m so pleased Joe. Your health is your wealth. You have spent a life trying to make a difference and fought long and hard for what you believe to be right. Did you succeed and make that difference? Most definitely.
You are loved and respected by many of us old cons who know. I am honoured to have your friendship.
We all get two lives Joe. The second one begins when we realise we only get one.
You have earned the right to look the world in the eye and draw strength in the knowledge you made a difference for so many.
Let Someone else do the fighting . Relax and put your feet up"
RAY BISHOP - 27 November 2020
MYRA HINDLEY AND ROSE WEST
THE REAL STORY....
ITV ANNOUNCED … "Rose West & Myra Hindley: Their Untold Story with Trevor McDonald
This brand new, 60 minute programme shared the untold story of the prison years of Britain’s two most infamous female criminals; Myra Hindley and Rose West.
Sir Trevor McDonald navigates viewers through this powerful film, made by Blink Films, and sheds fresh light on both Hindley and West’s psychology and criminal behaviour whilst behind bars.
Moors murderess Hindley was considered the most wicked woman in Britain for killing five children in the 1960s, with her lover Ian Brady. West was found guilty of ten equally terrible murders, with her husband, Fred West, including killing her own daughter.
On conviction West, 41, was locked up in H ‘Hell Wing’ in HMP Durham, which held Britain’s most serious female prisoners, including IRA terrorists, sex offenders, arsonists and 52-year-old Hindley.
THERE HAS BEEN VERY LITTLE "UNTOLD " ABOUT THE ABOVE ... HOWEVER
IT WAS FURTHER ANNOUNCED … " With a host of exclusive contributors, including former Category A prisoners, the programme reveals how West and Hindley grew close in jail, bonding over their similar crimes, then had an affair, which cooled as they became rivals to be ‘prison royalty’.
THE PROGRAMME RELIED HEAVILY ON THE "RELATIONSHIP" BETWEEN THESE TWO WOMEN AS BEING THE UNTOLD STORY!
Observers may be interested to know that I had been interviewed by Blink Films for over one and a half hours, but had never been formally interviewed about my opinion on this relationship. However, I offered, off the record, my opinion that I felt there was absolutely no substance to the story, for the following reasons.
Prior to requesting a transfer to HMP Durham, Myra Hindley had suffered intense scrutiny by the worlds media, and her relationship with new found lover Nina Wilde was the subject of speculation in the press, and of great interest to the prison authorities. Myra had orchestrated a move to Durham to be closer to Nina, to have regular visits and to progress the new relationship, under the watchful eye of her private benefactor David Astor, Frank Longford, myself, and her official spokesman Rev Peter Timms.
There was no mention of Nina Wilde in this documentary at all and those who knew Myra Hindley the most, including me, would find it inconceivable that she would have risked everything for a relationship with a prisoner who was neither intellectually or physically attractive to her.
The programme also failed to comment on the fact that the prison officer, who had attempted to assist her to escape (Patricia Cairns) was back on the scene, and was being financially and emotionally supported by David Astor and his wife, because she was Myra's long term partner.
Patricia was also watching Myra's relationships closely, with me, and I had contact with another prisoner in Durham who had been keeping an eye on Myra. There was no mention of Rose West at all, apart from the fact they were acquaintances on the same wing. Myra had agreed that she would be civil towards Rose West, but little else.
Added to all of this was the fact that Myra was suffering psychological ill health whilst in Durham prison, and a variety of physical ailments, which were the focus of everybody's attention, and any suggestion that she would have wanted yet another physical or emotional relationship with anybody would be laughable.
It was interesting to see how many contributors were dragged out, for this latest documentary that had not appeared in any previous, and who did not really know Myra at all.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE DOCUMENTARY STATED THAT SHE LIVED ON THE FIRST FLOOR LANDING OF H WING, BUT THIS WAS FOR A MATTER OF A FEW WEEKS. SHE THEN SNAPPED HER THIGH BONE ON THE EXERCISE YARD, AND WAS LOCATED IN THE MALE HOSPITAL CENTRE IN RECOVERY BEFORE BEING TRANSFERED TO THE FOURTH FLOOR LANDING, IN THE DAILY CARE OF ANOTHER PRISONER BECAUSE SHE WAS IN EXCRUTIATING PAIN FROM HER INJURY, AND UNABLE TO COMPLETE BASIC TASKS LET ALONE ROMP WITH ROSE WEST.
The main evidence appeared to be just salacious gossip from two or three prisoners who were certainly not people Myra would confide in, as they actually hated each other.
I had hoped that Leo Goatley (Rose Wests Solicitor) would provide sufficient evidence to prove me wrong about my own opinions, but I was totally underwhelmed by his input.
FINALLY IT WAS ANNOUNCED … "The programme shows how Hindley continued to manipulate people from behind bars, just as she deceived the children she abducted, even persuading a nun turned prison guard to help her escape. Meanwhile West, continued to demand favours of her children, and tried to control their lives from behind bars and she still displays terrifying flashes of rage."
Myra Hindley's manipulation has been well documented over the decades, and this programme brought nothing new to the table, as far as I am concerned. It was akin to the sensationalist rubbish you read in the tabloids, and not something worthy of the time and effort it took to piece it together.
Take away the theatricals and reference to historic documents and you are left with very little evidence at all.
This formed part of ITV’s Crime and Punishment series, and purported to be, a " revealing documentary focuses on West and Hindley’s life behind bars - the only women who have ever been given whole life tariffs for their crimes, meaning they would never be released."
For me, simply revealed that the media are truly scraping the bottom of the barrel as regards any new angles for Myra Hindley stories.
If you wish to read the full Myra Hindley Story, then purchase
FOR THE LOVE OF MYRA
Available on Amazon
SUPPORT FOR PARTNERS
FAMILIES AND FRIENDS
OF SEXUAL OFFENDERS
Those who commit Sexual Offences create many victims, not just those who are directly offended against, but the victims family and friends, and even the police officers who have to investigate some of the worst crimes imaginable.
But, there is another set of victims, that it is hard, and sometimes impossible to feel empathy for and that is the offenders family, often shocked to find that their loved one could have created so much pain, for so many people, and in such horrific circumstances! They are often abused, threatened with violence, and treated with contempt, for simply being related to the offender.
PLEASE TAKE TIME TO READ THIS POIGNANT REAL LIFE STORY .....
I have been married to my husband for over 40 years and we have a grown up son and daughter. Up until the point of my husband’s arrest, I thought rather smugly that we had a small but pretty amazing, close family. That changed in a heart beat when we got that early morning knock on the front door. My world fell apart as the man I loved with every fibre of my being admitted to cases of historic sexual abuse. I felt as though I entered a parallel universe, my heart was broken beyond words and my head was barely habitable. This state became the new norm for me during the following 11 months that my husband was under investigation.
Apart from telling a few close friends, we had to pretend that everything was normal; nothing was normal. This period of limbo is actually torture. The not knowing. Wondering what the sentence might be. Wondering how many friends I would lose, would it affect my work, how would people react? We do after all, live in a society that emphasises sensationalism, revenge and gossip.
Exchanging pleasantries with people in the street was a strain. ‘Hi, how are you?’ ‘Oh, fine thanks; yes, everything’s great.’ When inside I want to say I am hurting so bad I need morphine and my husband is dying of grief and remorse. How’s your day?’ But instead we put on brave faces.
After 11 seemingly endless months of investigation my husband received a lengthy prison sentence along with a diagnosis of prostate cancer just a few days before this. My heart and soul were lacerated by a grief too great to describe. It was at that moment that my own sentence began.
And then it came out in the press. At this point you may be wondering why I was standing by my husband. It would, after all, have been so very much easier to walk away.
Briefly, the reason is that I have known him for a very long time and I have seen all the astonishing good he has done in his life. I refuse to throw all that away. And there are always many complex reasons why a good man does something very wrong, and it isn’t because he has suddenly become bad. Loving one person hard and long and well can be one of the most difficult and yet rewarding things to do. And if you knew my husband, you would understand.
The press had a field day. It was in local press and in the Metro magazine on every bus and train, etc., across the country. It was also on local radio and television. The press tell half the story, twist and exaggerate the facts and incite hatred. I don’t understand why it is even legal. And my husband, at this point, is safely out of the firing line. I am bearing the full brunt of it. I received anonymous letters and a vigilante Facebook page said when they found the house they would burn it down.
I am lucky as I have no small children at home but I know that this is a truly dreadful situation that many, women and men find themselves in as they struggle to keep their children safe.
Fortunately, a lot of neighbours were kind and I am very lucky. This is largely because my husband had gone round to them beforehand and said ‘This is what I have done, I am going to go to prison and I would like you to look after my wife.". That took huge courage. But this is the kind of man he is.
Many others took a different view. There were those who decided that because I was standing by my husband I must have known. Oh, how that particular comment hurts. I have tortured myself with the thoughts ‘Why didn’t I know? Could I have done something different? Could I have stopped this? Could I have prevented so much pain to victims, victims’ families, our family…?’ But of course, it wasn’t even on my radar. Those committing these sort of crimes even hide it from themselves.
But it is pub talk and village gossip that can be so cruel. At one point, it was even decided that I should be investigated too. It blew over, as things do, but it was a hard and lonely time when I was dealing with immense, unspeakable grief and learning to live on my own for the first time in my life.
I must add at this point, that my daughter whom I had always considered to be my best friend had chosen to leave the family and have nothing more to do with us. I accept that it was all too much for her but grieving for my husband and grieving for my daughter was a double blow and felt like bereavement without ever having a funeral.
I am grateful beyond words that my incredible son and his amazing partner remained unflinchingly loyal throughout.
Financially things were hard. And again, I was the one to be affected. We had obviously lost my husband’s income, but every prisoner of pensionable age has their state pension stopped as well.
I have some health issues that mean I can only work part time, but paying the bills was now totally down to me.
I feel very strongly that stopping the state pension is cruel. The majority of people in prison are men. There are increasingly older men in prison, which means that there are a huge number of older women who are being financially punished for something they didn’t do.
Our bank got wind of the offences and closed our account without warning. I also found that our home insurance was invalid. Insurers are not keen on insuring the homes of those convicted of sexual offences, apparently because of the possibility of vigilante attack. This knowledge didn’t help me sleep at night. Insurance was offered at four times the previous premium.
It is also possible that we will have to move. Because I am staying with my husband, my future is uncertain. It is possible that my husband will not be able to come back to live in this house because of its location. I would really like to know as this deeply affects my future. The probation service could possibly advise. But after a year of my husband’s repeated efforts to contact them, there has been no response.
So for the next ‘X’ number of years, my life is about balancing work and looking after the house and my health, surviving birthdays, Christmas and social media and visiting my husband in prison.
I have learned a thing or two over this past year of being a prison widow. And I would love to share some of this with you.
Evenings are a dangerous time, have a plan. Learn to keep yourself company.
There comes a point where you have to re-enter society and risk rejection. Other people’s negative reactions say so very much about them and absolutely nothing about you.
If someone has had a truly dreadful time and their life has imploded, don’t cross the road in embarrassment because you don’t know what to say. Just look them in the eye, smile and say hello. It means a lot.
On the other hand, don’t try to fix them. Avoid platitudes at all costs.
“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel” Unless you have fully referenced, scientific evidence of this, I’m not interested.
“It’s going to get better, I promise.” Unless you are my actual fairy godmother, I don’t want to hear this.
Back to prison visits. These involve a huge outlay emotionally, physically and financially.
I visit once every three weeks, which amounts to 17 visits per year. Each visit is two hours.
This amounts to 34 hours of visit which is approx one and a half days per year.
In order to see my husband for one and a half days per year, I will drive 3.5 thousand miles.
I will spend at least 34 hours in a waiting room.
At a conservative estimate, I will spend 1000 hours driving.
Booking visits. Now there’s a thing… Anyone who regularly has to do this will tell you that the system has been brilliantly designed to produce maximum stress. You can do it on line; they prefer you to do this. You have to give three options and often wait several days to find out which day you have got. This system is not always reliable and I have on several occasions seen visitors turned away from the prison because the system hasn’t been efficient enough to let the prison know and then you will not be allowed in.
I have seen a mother and three young children turned away from the prison (which is in the South) after they had travelled from Leeds. She had brought her confirmation email with her; it wasn’t her fault at all, but she was turned away. She was crying, the children were crying. It was awful.
I am told it is safer to ring the booking line at the prison. It is open from 10am to 1pm and you usually have to wait ages - and I have waited over an hour - before you can get through. You are not in a queue; you just have to keep pressing ‘redial’ until someone answers or your finger wears out.
I also suffered greatly over my lack of involvement with my husband’s treatment for cancer. We have looked after each other when unwell for our whole adult life. Neither of us could be told when his operation was going to be in case we planned his escape. For many weeks we wondered ‘Will it be today?’ ‘Will the prison remember to take him to hospital?’ They had already messed up several appointments. He had a 5 hour operation and was returned to a filthy prison less than 24 hours afterwards, in pain, catheterised and yet still double handcuffed to two prison officers. This hurts my heart.
His cell mate - a very young man on remand for violent crimes - was an angel. It is not easy in a tiny cell with no privacy, with a catheter and then extreme incontinence and limited access to laundry but with this young man’s gentleness and care, my husband made a full recovery. It still distresses me that I couldn’t be there for him but I will be grateful to that young man for ever.
When you have loved someone for a very long time, you tend to be in tune with their moods. When my husband gets down about something so do I, and the thing that causes him - and therefore me - huge distress is the lack of any sort of help to address the offending behaviour.
In the 7 months he was at the first prison he had four visits from the OMU (Offender Management Unit). Each visit was less than 5 minutes. It was a different person almost every time and they totally contradicted each other.
In the 5 months he has been at his second prison, he has had 2 visits. Each less than 5 minutes. They have been through the cell door, in easy hearing of anyone on the corridor.
My husband has worked really hard to understand his life and what caused the offences to occur and has made progress. However, it seems that nobody in authority is aware or interested.
It is interesting and deeply disturbing that the prisoners actually turn to each other to try to help and sort out what has caused their offences. This isn’t good enough; I believe we, as a society, are failing them.
I don’t need to tell you that there is a shocking amount of suicide in prison and the thing that so often causes the deepest grief is the knowledge that their family is suffering as much, if not more, than they are themselves. The families - including young children - serve the same sentence, just in a different way.
I hate prisons in this country and everything they stand for and yet I get so much from the visits. I love standing with that mixed group of people under the razor wire - only we know what if feels like to ache in this unique way. When you put someone in prison you break the circuit of the lives of everyone who loves or depends on them. The lights go out everywhere. But the love and the loyalty and sheer strength of character I have seen in those waiting rooms has restored my faith in humanity. I am ashamed of my former ignorance.
It would appear I am not at all unusual in standing by my husband. There is love by the bucket load in those waiting rooms. And there are no barriers; we are all there for the same reason. There are the well to do, travellers, crack addicts and everything in between. And I am in debt to every single one of them for showing me just how vast compassion can be.
One lady drives 5 hours from Sussex - a ten hour round trip and she sets off at 5.30 in the morning. A wonderful gypsy lady covered in life’s scars and ink tattoos told me she was visiting her husband and her son - both in the same prison. I said how on earth do you cope? She said you just have to keep loving them. I will never forget her.
On my first day visiting, I was so nervous I couldn’t even get my key in the locker and a woman in her mid 20s, with scars where she had cut herself and needle marks all up her arms, and an aroma about her that implied she hadn’t washed possibly ever, came up to me, put an arm around me and said “It’s your first time, isn’t it? I’ll look after you.” Angels come in many, many disguises.
So you see, it is not all negative. Astonishing things have come out of the indescribable pain.
Maybe this is what a crisis can do. A crisis is a point at which change must come, for better or worse. ‘Krinein’ is the Greek root of the word and means to separate or sift. Crises shake things up and we emerge from them with what really matters.
The crisis in my life has opened my eyes.
So although I have hurt more than I ever thought I could hurt without dying, although I have been punished by a system that doesn’t seem to care about the collateral damage when someone is sent to prison for this type of offence, although I have lost financial security, friends and family and possibly will lose the home I love, I have gained something extraordinary and priceless.
I have gained knowledge and it is this: Kindness matters. Listening matters. Real friends stick by you no matter what. We all belong to each other - yes even, and possibly especially, the so called dustbin people of society; they may just have the most of all to teach us. We can do hard things.
This lady was one of the first to join a secret Facebook group for partners, family and friends of Sex Offenders so that they can receive advice , support and friendship from people who have suffered in the same way. I am using my knowledge and experience to support these families, which is what I have been doing since February 1979.
Membership of the group is through invite only -
Please go to my Facebook page using the link below.
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