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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 05:20 GMT 06:20 UK
Inmates 'neglected' in women's prison
Holloway Prison in north London
Holloway Prison houses 500 inmates
Inmates at a London women's prison are continuing to suffer neglect in the face of the pressure to cut costs by the Prison Service.

The findings come in the latest report by Sir David Ramsbotham, the Chief Inspector of Prisons who retired in July.

The report found that Holloway Prison, in north London, has made significant improvements in a number of areas but was still "failing" many prisoners.

Sir David said the prison's management and staff were struggling to meet the cost targets placed on them by their "political and Prison Service masters".

I thought I was streetwise until I came in here - it's really opened my eyes

Sarah O'Shea, Holloway inmate

There was praise for the "positive and creative thinking" shown by staff at the jail which houses 500 prisoners at a cost of 40,500 per inmate a year to run.

Prison governor David Lancaster said he believed the courts were sending too many women to jail.

He said they would be better catered for in secure units or special hospitals.

The operational manager for women's prisons, Niall Clifford, said he was having to make savings of between 80m and 100m among the 16 prisons under his remit.

"Holloway is not being treated any differently to any other establishment, in fact it is being treated more favourably in some respects."

Anger management

Mr Clifford said that recruiting nurses for the prison's health centre was a problem and that 40,000 a month was being spent on agency personnel.

Inmate Gillian Bryant, who was convicted of robbing a petrol station, said: "They definitely need new doctors.

"You put in for an appointment and it can take up to four weeks to be seen."

Sarah O'Shea, who is serving a sentence for cocaine smuggling, said: "I thought I was streetwise until I came in here - it's really opened my eyes."

She said that with the help of staff she had gained qualifications and certificates in several subjects including anger management and assertiveness.

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