Anarchist prisoner Toby Shone is currently being held in the Category B facility HM Prison Parc, a privately run prison in South Wales, despite being in reality a Category C or D prisoner who was eligible for Release on Temporary License (ROTL) on 21 January 2022, according to paperwork he received on 26th March 2022. ROTL is home leave from prison in preparation for release. Category B prisoners are not eligible for home leave.
Despite being found not guilty of terrorist offences in court and with no evidence linking him to the website and the website 325.nostate.net, Toby is being held without legal process and without possibility of redress as a Category B, High Risk prisoner where he is not eligible for ROTL (home leave). A probation official told Toby that his categorisation is a consequence of his anarchist beliefs, and the fact that he is considered by the authorities to act on those beliefs.
Throughout Toby’s incarceration he has been treated as though he were a terrorist, despite no conviction for such crimes. He was convicted for possession of psychedelics that were found in a collective space, yet the state wants to categorise him as a terrorist simply for being an anarchist. They continue to threaten him with severe and ongoing parole restrictions even after his release, restrictions that are only applicable, on their own terms, to people the state defines as terrorists. What they are doing is extending the Prevent strategy to include anarchism as an ‘extremist’ ideology. This is how Toby is being treated at this very moment as his parole and home release are considered. He is being treated on the basis of having anarchist political views rather than his parole being organised on the basis of the crimes which he has been convicted of.
The Government has defined extremism in the Prevent strategy as: “vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. We also include in our definition of extremism calls for the death of members of our armed forces”. The state’s actions towards Toby show that they want to include anarchism within this definition of extremism.
If they are able to get away with this they will have worryingly shifted the terrain of state control towards a position in with it is de facto illegal to be an active anarchist because it will legally be defined as a form of extremism. For this reason Toby’s case is of particular interest, as the precedent that will be set if they succeed in their attempts to criminalise his beliefs will be grounds for a wide-ranging authoritarianism. Coming as it does at the same time as the extension of powers against protest with the recent passing of the PCSC Act, it offers a disturbing insight into the states agenda.
Toby was ghosted from HMP Bristol on Friday 18th March. While at Bristol, the prison withheld two parcels of legal papers sent by his legal team and which he has never received. He was permanently confined to his cell at HM Prison Parc between March 18th and March 29th with no exercise, no time out of his cell except for one shower, minimal interaction (guards frequently just throw his food on the floor and shut the door), and refusal of healthcare which he requested due to an eye infection (he has now received treatment). Unlike most prisons where you can purchase your own fruit and vegetables to supplement the prison food which is unfit for human health, HMP & YOI Parc deny prisoners this possibility by designating fresh food a “security risk”. They also force prisoners to choose between phone credit to stay in touch with loved ones and necessities from the prison shop. In most prisons, phone credit is additional to the weekly spend on extra food and toiletries, but at Parc phone credit has to be bought out of the weekly spend allowance.
Director of HM Parc, Janet Wallsgrove was awarded an OBE this year by the Queen for “services to the prison service”. HM Prison Parc is a leader in prison slavery and routinely locks young offenders and adults up beyond the legal limit. One prisoner on Toby’s wing was locked up for 24 hours a day for 18 days. This is torture, but no surprise that Parc is running this kind of regime – this prison is run by G4S, whose guards are famous for murdering Angolan man Jimmy Mubenga on a crowded passenger plane on 12 October 2010.
There is more on Toby’s case and its’ importance for revolutionaries in this article from Freedom Press. They note the uptick in repression for anarchists and the use of anti-terrorist legislation to target activists. Toby has given an interview to The Canary where he talks about his situation, his politics and the ridiculous nature of the state’s repression which you can check out here. You can also read more of Toby’s own words about his case here. Brighton ABC have regular updates as well which you can check out here.
Toby continues to receive repressive treatment as the State try desperately to find some way to punish him for crimes he is not guilty of, solely because he is an anarchist. This includes severe limitations on his mail and communications, acting towards him with respect parole and release as though he is a terrorist and failure to adequately offer needed medical care and support. He really appreciates any contact from the outside, so do spend half an hour just to drop him a card or letter, this kind of simple solidarity is incredibly important.
You can write to Toby at:
Toby Shone A7645EP, HM Prison Parc, Heol Hobcyn John, Coity, Bridgend CF35 6AP
Donations can be made to:
The Bottled Wasp
Sort Code: 08-92-99
Acc No: 65601648
IBAN: GB35 CPBK 0892 9965 6016 48
BIC: CPBK GB22
Take action in solidarity with Toby! Fuck the prison system!