Jails chief: take teenage girls out of women's prisons

The jailing of girls in adult women's prisons must be outlawed, the chief inspector of prisons has warned the Government.

Every year hundreds of teenage girls are sent to adult prisons where they are often locked up for 23 hours a dayat risk of self-harm or suicide.

Anne Owers, who is in charge of inspecting jails, is accusing ministers of reneging on their pledge to ensure that girls aged under 18 are held in separate institutions.

"There aren't enough secure places to put young women or else they're not getting bail. And the degree of mental illness among those young women is very great indeed," Ms Owers told The Independent on Sunday.

The Government had said it would remove all under-18 male and female offenders from adult jails by March 1999. But figures from the Youth Justice Board show there are currently 88 girls aged between 16 and 18 being held in women's jails.