Letter: Prison reformed

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Sir: The media reaction to the delayed Chief Inspector's report on Parkhurst prison ("Jail regime condemned as appalling", 8 October) would rightly cause public concern if radical action had not taken place.

Since 1992 the reports of the Board of Visitors indicated grave concerns over the treatment of prisoner/patients in the Health Care Centre.

The Governor's absolute priority after the escape had to be security. In addition he was faced with budget cuts, downgrading to Category B status and demoralised staff. The prisoners treated in the Health Care Centre remain, by the nature of their medical condition, very demanding, placing great strains on the skills and humanity of management and staff.

During 1997 the restructuring of the Health Care Centre has begun to take effect. The care shown to prisoners who are at risk of self-harm has reached a high standard. I am sure that the Chief Inspector will find considerable change for the better when he next visits.

RICHARD GULLY

Binstead, Isle of Wight

The writer is a member of Parkhurst Board of Visitors

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