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The play of light

Verne light smIt is an unsettling time for the prison officers. The once busy prison is now an empty shell; however the security systems and protocols remain in place, guarding the vacated silence. The momentary shock on an officer’s face when a door that should always be locked is found to be open, or the lock is missing all together as it is being replaced as part of the refurbishment. My having a camera in the prison skirts along the edge of this transitional security. However, some things remain unaltered: I am not allowed to carry a mobile phone, nor to photograph faces (of prisoners) or keys. But light. I am being shown around one of the accomodation blocks and my guide, a Falklands’ veteran before becoming a prison officer, suddenly stops to take a second look at the play of light across the corridor: “the prisoners would never normally leave their doors open”. Thanks Graham for showing me around today. [In HMP The Verne prisoners had keys to their own rooms, and could move about the prison during the day. If the need arose, this freedom was curtailed and the prisoner sent to the segregation block, which has traditional cells with reinforced doors and bars on the windows. Ed]

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