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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Prison needs 'urgent investment'
Sir David Ramsbotham
Ramsbotham: Leicester prison simply cannot cope
People with serious mental illnesses are being sent to Leicester prison because there are not enough NHS hospital beds for them, according to a prison report.

Sir David Ramsbotham, the outgoing Chief Inspector of Prisons, says the jail cannot cope with the situation.

He said Leicester prison should shut down unless there is urgent investment in its Victorian buildings.

The report follows an unannounced inspection of the prison in February.

Solitary confinement

Sir David, who recently retired as chief inspector, said a significant number of inmates have been failed by the jail, which itself has been failed by chronic under-investment.

He said Leicester Prison should be a priority for capital investment.

The report says many people with mental illnesses are being sent to the jail because the NHS does not have enough secure accommodation.

But inspectors found the prison does not have the facilities to care for these patients.

The outgoing chief inspector said he was appalled to hear that one disturbed inmate had spent a year in solitary confinement because it was the only way the prison could cope with him.

A Leicester prison spokesperson said conditions for mentally-ill patients have improved since the inspection, and more money is being set aside for care of patients.

The spokesperson said the patients receive the same level of care and support as they would outside the prison.

Sir David has called for a review of mental health services.

Sir David has also said that the next inspection of Leicester prison will be brought forward by a year because of the concern.

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