Dartmoor `dungeon' should close

The punishment block for unruly inmates at Dartmoor Prison looks and feels like a "Victorian dungeon", an official inspection report into the jail says. The report argues that the unit should be shut, unless substantial improvements are made immediately, as it is not a "suitable environment for segregated prisoners".

But overall, Sir David Ramsbotham, the chief inspector of prisons, concluded the jail was well managed, with good relations between staff and inmates - a big improvement since the last official report, in 1992.

The then chief inspector of prisons, Judge Stephen Tumim, said Dartmoor was the "dustbin" of the Prison Service for unwanted prisoners and should be closed by 1994 if it was not reformed and modernised.

Sir David was able to be far more positive, in the light of a pounds 35m programme of refurbishments to the prison, which opened in 1809 to hold French prisoners from the Napoleonic War.