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Last Updated:  Friday, 28 March, 2003, 17:13 GMT
Crowded jail 'has drug problem'
Cookham Wood Prison
Cookham Wood houses about 150 women prisoners
A Kent jail has been named as one of the most overcrowded women's prisons in the UK.

Cookham Wood in Rochester is one of eight women's jails were urgent action is needed to improve conditions, according to a new report from the Prison Reform Trust (PRT).

Cookham Wood has nearly 150 prisoners, which the PRT says is too many.

And the organisation also highlighted a problem with drug use in the Kent jail.

No real risk

The PRT says the number of women in jail across the UK this week is 4,447 - a rise of 32 since last August.

There are a lot of inmates in Cookham who suffer from drug problems
Enver Solomon, Prison Reform Trust
PRT Director Juliet Lyon said: "Few women offenders present a real risk to the public.

"For all but the most serious and violent offenders, support and supervision centres in local communities offer the best chance for women offenders to get out of trouble and take responsibility for their lives."

Enver Solomon of the PRT said Cookham Wood had a particular problem with drug dealers in the jail.

"There are a lot of inmates in Cookham who suffer from drug problems," he said.

Don't stay off drugs

"These are women that are not necessarily drug barons, but they have got involved in the drug trade in some way.

"If they're in Cookham they might get treatment but when they come out of prison there isn't any continuing treatment for them.

"So they can get off drugs but they don't stay off drugs."

There are 17 women's prisons in the UK and the PRT says eight are overcrowded.

Across the country the number of female inmates has risen 40% since 1998.

'New prison needed for women'
11 Jul 01 |  UK News

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