Pauline started campaigning outside prisons following the suicide of her only daughter Sarah at 18 years old in Styal Prison in 2003. She campaigned for the next five years, protesting outside Holloway all too frequently every time there was a death in custody. Pauline, having repeatedly been arrested (15 times) was not sent to prison, where she had wanted to be sent to illustrate the dangers of the institution.
Here is an excerpt from a piece written by Pauline that can be found at No More Prisons which gives us an idea of how dire Holloway was in the early 2000's.
Remembering Karen Ann Fletcher "It is believed that Karen Fletcher was recently transferred to Holloway from Styal Prison, Cheshire. Her death, the fourth at HMP Holloway since April 2004, again raises questions about the legal duty of care owed to prisoners. In addition, a Holloway inmate remains on a life support machine, after being cut down from a makeshift noose at the jail in May 2004. The Chief Inspector of Prisons' report, published earlier this year, highlighted problems of dirt and vermin at HMP Holloway."
In 2008, Pauline took her own life on her daughter’s grave. In the intervening years between her daughter’s death and Pauline’s suicide 44 women had died in prisons.Last year women's self harm and self inflicted deaths in custody were back to the levels they were at when Pauline started campaigning. You can read Pauline's Obituary in The Guardian. Thanks to No More Prisons for sending us in photographs of Pauline.
Some memories of Pauline in our previously published story
“Pauline would stand in front of a sweatbox coming from court and demand it turn around and take the women inside to ‘a place of safety’ and not into the hell-hole of prison. She would stay there until physically removed by the police”
We think about Pauline a lot at Holloway Prison Stories. In fact her story was a big part of why we set up this website. If you have any memories or stories about Pauline or feel this piece could be amended, please let us know.
If you are affected by Pauline's story, please reach out to someone. Samaritans can be called on 116 123 from any phone, for free.