In an exceedingly bitter twist, it would not be long before Faith's inventory of uncontroversial concerns would mutate into a prophetic warning. Over the closing months of 2016, an insurrectionary epidemic spontaneously swept the nation's prisons, plunging jails up and down the UK into violent chaos. In October
, staff at HMP Lewes were forced to "retreat to safety" when inmates went on a "rampage" that saw cells and offices severely damaged. Quelling the outburst required the help of a national response unit. Prison Officers Association chair Mike Rolfe blamed the incident on "poor management" and a "severe shortage" of staff, noting only four officers were patrolling the wing in question at the time.
The next month, up to 250 inmates mutinied at HMP Bedford, breaking into staff areas and ransacking equipment and files. In order to quell the uprising, up to 60 inmates had to be removed. Damages inflicted ran to over £1 million. At the time
, the Howard League for Penal Reform noted a chronic lack of manpower meant officers often refused to let prisoners leave cells due to fear of reprisal, in turn "breeding boredom and frustration" among inmates. Moreover, it was hugely overcrowded, housing 495 prisoners – 173 more than its certified maximum capacity.
Such incidents somehow appear positively tame when compared with what was to come in December at HMP Birmingham. Tumult erupted
at the privately-run prison after an officer was "rushed" by inmates – 600 prisoners across all four wings of the prison proceeded to riot for 12 hours, inflicting millions of pounds worth of damages. They could only be subdued by specialist riot officers. A week later
, a smaller scale rampage beset HMP Swaleside, again requiring specialist assistance to quell. Reports at the time suggested tensions between inmates and prison officers had reached breaking point after longstanding prison staff were replaced by young and inexperienced workers, and budget cuts significantly reduced visiting hours, cutting off inmates from their families.
In response, IMB National Council President Thornhill issued a statement
on the riots, stating prisons were bedevilled by "serious issues" and "staff shortages" – words echoing Faith's claims of jails being "starved of resources" – and noting IMB members "regularly expressed great frustration" that their concerns about the state of prisons had been "largely ignored."
Nevertheless, despite Thornhill's inadvertent public accord with Faith's concerns, in January 2017 she received a letter from then-prisons minister Sam Gyimah, terminating her tenure as IMB chair for allegedly disclosing "classified and other information, often in an inaccurate manner" and failing to comply with "agreed policies and procedures." She was also banned from serving on another IMB for at least five years.
The spate of prison riots did not end there, either. In 2017, such events were almost a monthly occurrence, with HMPs Birmingham, Deal and Hewell suffering the most high profile disturbances.
Despite her sacking and ban, and the campaign to silence her, Faith is determined to keep fighting. In a crowning irony, she notes the MoJ's efforts have backfired, instead affording her a national profile, and a louder voice than she ever possessed inside of the system.