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Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers CBE
"It is a challenging brief"
 real 28k

Friday, 4 May, 2001, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
First female prisons watchdog appointed
Sir David Ramsbotham
Anne Owers succeeds Sir David Ramsbotham
The first female Chief Inspector of Prisons has been appointed by the government.

Anne Owers CBE will succeed the current incumbent, Sir David Ramsbotham on 1 August.


The important thing is letting society know what goes on in these institutions

Anne Owers
Ms Owers, currently director of all-party human rights and law reform organisation Justice, was chosen by an independent panel after the position was advertised last November.

Announcing the appointment, Home Secretary Jack Straw said: "I am confident that she will uphold the high standards of integrity, rigour and independence we and the public expect from the inspection of this key public service."

Mr Straw paid tribute to the "significant contribution" made by Sir David Ramsbotham, who has held the post since December 1995.

Making a difference

Anne Owers is a former general secretary of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and a member of the Lord Chancellor's Legal Services Consultative Panel.

She said her new position would be "very challenging and very important".

"The fact that there is so much interest in the appointment shows just how successful Sir David Ramsbotham and the inspectorate have been in keeping prisons in the public eye," she added.

"The important thing is letting society know what goes on in these institutions.

"The other important thing is to make sure these inspections actually make a difference."

The Cambridge graduate said she had 20 years' experience of being an "independent commentator", rather than being from a government background.

In that time she had both criticised policies and worked with governments to improve the system, she added.

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See also:

15 Mar 01 | UK
England's failing prisons
02 Nov 99 | UK
Prisons' chief: I'm sorry
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