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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 December, 2003, 08:43 GMT
Jail criticised for 'unnecessary rules'
East Sutton Park Prison
Restrictive rules were changed at the prison following criticism
A prison in Kent has been criticised for having a disrespectful culture and not enough focus on resettlement.

The comments about East Sutton Park women's jail, near Maidstone, were made by the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Anne Owers, who made an unannounced visit in July.

In a summary of her report, she said the prison had unnecessary rules which were designed to create control rather than encourage responsibility.

Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, she said the rules included not being able to walk across the main hall, having to use plastic cutlery and fixed bed times.

'Women's needs ignored'

She said shower cubicles had been installed with plain glass, which women were too embarrassed to use, and standard toothpaste and toiletry were not being issued.

Many of the rules had just developed, Ms Owers said.

"What troubled us was that women were not able to make their voices heard, and these things just carried on.

"The prison was not really thinking about women and their needs," she said.

However, she noted that many of the restrictive rules were changed during her visit, showing that they "clearly were not necessary".

On the positive side, her report said the open prison, which can hold up to 100 inmates, was well-ordered, generally safe and drug free.

Commenting on the report, the director general of the Prison Service said resettlement opportunities were now being improved.

Phil Wheatley added education was being broadened, and the number of women working in the community had been increased.

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