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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Life inside Holloway prison
Holloway Prison
Holloway is designed to hold more than 530 prisoners
An isolated and difficult life awaits former teaching assistant Maxine Carr during her time on remand at Holloway women's prison in north London.

She was sent to the jail after appearing at Peterborough Magistrates Court on Wednesday, charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice in connection with the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Former teaching assistant Maxine Carr, 25
Maxine Carr appeared in court this week
The jeering crowds that lined the streets as she was driven to and from court gives an indication of public distaste at the crime Ms Carr is alleged to have committed.

The governor of Holloway, Edd Willetts, is expected to keep a close eye on Ms Carr and may decide to keep her segregated from others on remand.

Her boyfriend, 28-year-old caretaker Ian Huntley, is accused of murdering the girls and is being held at Rampton secure hospital after being sectioned under the Mental Health Act 1983.

'Very scary'

Ms Carr arrived at the jail early on Wednesday afternoon and is likely to have been strip-searched, a procedure described as "degrading" by many prisoners.

Soon afterwards she was visited by a medical officer, to assess her mental and physical state.

It is not known if the officer decided her state of mind was such that it was necessary to put her on suicide watch.

Adjusting to life inside the jail is difficult for many prisoners and one former inmate told BBC News Online: "It can very scary for some women."

She described conditions in the prison as "disgusting, a pithole", with relations between the women often strained.

"It's not a nice place to be - you've got to watch your back," she said.

"I'm not talking about physical abuse, but women are just so bitchy. It's like being back in the playground."

Prisoners at Holloway have included mass murderer Rose West, who received 10 life sentences for her part in a series of sexual killings with her husband Fred.

Sexual harassment

In 1996 conditions at Holloway were so appalling that the then Chief Inspector of Prisons, Sir David Ramsbotham, walked out in disgust on his first visit.

Woman jeers at police car
Crowds jeered as she was driven to Peterborough court
Although standards have since improved, there have been a number of other issues of concern at the jail.

Last year a report by Sir David said that pressure to cut costs had led to the neglect of prisoners.

And in March of this year nine female prison officers were transferred to other duties. It followed a five-month inquiry into claims that a group of lesbian officers sexually harassed new female recruits and intimidated male officers.

Landmark building

Holloway is designed to hold up to 532 prisoners, at a cost of about 40,500 each.

It first opened in 1851 and became a women-only jail in 1903.

No trace remains of the original jail buildings, following a rebuilding project between 1975 and 1985.

The prison's red brick walls are now a well-known landmark in north London.


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21 Aug 02 | Health
26 Nov 01 | UK
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