Friday, March 26, 1999 Published at 03:44 GMT
'Appalling' life of young inmates
Young offenders are subjected to "institutionalised deprivation"
By BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Jane Peel
Conditions and treatment of inmates at England's biggest young offenders' institution have been described as "disgraceful", "appalling", and "totally unacceptable in a civilised country".
The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham, says Feltham in west London is "rotten to the core".
In his last report on Feltham two years ago, Sir David described the institution as a gigantic transit camp - filthy and bursting at the seams. He made almost 200 recommendations.
He is particularly scathing about the care of boys under 18 and those on remand. He calls their treatment "institutionalised deprivation".
Many were reportedly locked in their cells for 22 hours a day, forced to sleep on dirty, damaged mattresses and wear the same underwear for a week.
Sir David says he saw isolated pockets of good practice, demonstrating that the problem was not solely one of resources, but also one of staff attitude.
Sir David is therefore calling for a new centre to be built to relieve the pressures.
Meanwhile the prison service has set up a taskforce to implement improvements within six months and has provided extra money for Feltham.