Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Visited HMP Holloway with Paul Goggins (Prisons Minister - nothing to do with Greendale) and Jeremy Corbyn. This followed an adjournment debate on suicide amongst women prisoners and the Minister promised to visit Holloway. I was pleased to have been invited along.

Prison visits usually depress me but they are trying really hard at Holloway to improve the physical environment. More importantly there was a lot of work going on to try and use the prison experience positively. Seventy percent of the women who arrive at the prison go straight on a detox problem and a high proportion of the rest are referred to the medical unit. There are significant mental health problems.

The staff also do a lot of work to try and improve the self esteem of the prisoners - in the hope that it will help them cope with some of the pressures that eventually led to their imprisonmnet in the first place.

I was not sure that prison was the right place for many of these women and the depressing thing was that they received help in prison which was often not available on release. The re-offending rate is high so it seems to me that we ought to be trying harder to make sure that the women also receive some help on the outside. A humbling afternoon.