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19 February 2007
YOUNG MUM'S FURY AT THUG ON BBC SHOW.

YOUNG mum Barbara Mackay felt sick to her stomach when she saw the thug who battered her given a platform on TV.

David Mackenzie was featured in the recent BBC documentary Polmont: Boys Behind Bars.

In the programme, Mackenzie is seen crying like a baby when a fellow inmate calls him a beast.

But Barbara knows, to her cost, that the thug is all that and more.

Mackenzie battered Barbara when she was just 16 years old and pregnant with his child.

He drove her to a cemetery, punched her in the face, then repeatedly kicked and stamped on her stomach as she lay cowering on the ground.

As she screamed for help, Mackenzie drove off - returning minutes later to smash her jaw with one brutal punch.

Barbara, 18, said: "I thought he was going to kill me. I really thought he would beat me so much that I would die.

"I begged him to stop and all the time I kept thinking I must protect my baby. I rolled over to my side and he walked round me very calmly and then kicked me in my face so hard that he burst my nose open."

Mackenzie, who had beaten Barbara several times before, was sentenced to be locked up for a year for the attack. But he served only six months.

In the documentary, he went unchallenged when he told a sob story about how he slapped Barbara after she provoked him.

And he is seen nursing a bloody nose dished out to him by another inmate at the young offenders' institution in Stirlingshire.

Mackenzie's mother was even filmed crying outside Polmont, saying: "He's not a bad boy really. He's a good lad. He just made a mistake. I hope people won't judge him."

Barbara was traumatised by seeing Mackenzie, 21, on screen after her long, hard battle to get her life back together.

She said: "I haven't slept a night since I saw him on television.

"I can't believe the BBC didn't consider his victim. He is on there saying he only slapped me, when the truth is he beat me many, many times.

"I am so angry and so hurt. It's not right that he can sit on national television lying and making excuses for what he did.

"I wasn't even contacted to be told he was coming on. It's completely insensitive and the BBC should be ashamed."

Barbara was 15 when she started dating Mackenzie after meeting him through a mutual friend.

She said: "My very first impression was that there was something odd about him. But unfortunately I didn't go with my instincts."

At first he charmed her, telling her she was pretty and that he adored her.

But it was barely two months before the real Mackenzie began to surface.

Barbara's first taste of violence was a slap across the face. But, like many domestic violence victims, she gave her attacker a second chance.

She said: "I should have left, but he begged me not to, saying he was so sorry and would never do it again.

"I actually felt sorry for him."

Mackenzie's promise, inevitably, turned out to be empty. During petty rows, he took to slapping Barbara.

After that, there was a punch on the arm, followed by head-butting and kicking.

On one occasion, he bit her on her arm. Another time, he burst her nose with a punch.

"He whacked me with such force that my head went back and the blood sprayed across his bed," she added.

Barbara's family tried desperately to persuade her to leave him.

But Mackenzie had stolen every ounce of self-worth she had left.

She said: "He used to tell me no one else would even look at me. He made me feel like a no one. I was so young and scared."

In the summer of 2005, Barbara found out she was pregnant. Mackenzie, a champion accordion player, ordered her to have an abortion and was livid when she refused.

The pair split but a few weeks into the pregnancy, Barbara decided to tell Mackenzie she would allow contact with the baby.

He picked her up at her home in Dingwall and drove to a cemetery in Inverness, where his grandparents are buried.

Throughout the journey, he ranted and raved about how Barbara had ruined his life.

After parking next to his grandparents' grave, Mackenzie carried out the savage attack.

Clutching her stomach and praying her unborn baby had survived, Barbara ran screaming to a phone box and rang her father, who called police.

Mackenzie was arrested and charged with the assault.

Barbara was lucky that she had a loving family who helped her recover from the devastation he had brought to her life.

She is now settled with a devoted partner and a daughter, who Mackenzie never sees.

Her brutal ex-boyfriend has now been released. Barbara was forced to have an interdict taken out against him after he menacingly drove up and down past her house.

But she was determined not to let Mackenzie spoil her happiness again and she managed to put him to the back of her mind - until the BBC Scotland documentary was screened a fortnight ago.

Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the BBC said the purpose of the programme was to show viewers what life is like inside a young offenders' institution.

She added: "We do have sympathy with the victims and would always wish to avoid distressing them.

"But clearly in the majority of criminal cases, there is a victim and the BBC had to carefully weigh up the opportunity to offer the public an insight into the juvenile prison community."

'I begged him to stop and I kept thinking I had to protect my baby. Then he kicked me in the face so hard, my nose burst open'


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19 February 2007
BAR-L BEARS WHINGE FOR THEIR SUPPER.

CURRY-MAD cons are kicking up a stink with prison bosses - because they didn't get to tuck into a spread of spicy food after a Muslim holiday.

While Islamic prisoners and their families dined on chicken korma and beef rogan josh to celebrate Eid ul-Fitr - the end of the Ramadan fast - other inmates were stewing over their treatment.

And they were so fed-up at missing out on the curry feast, they cooked up claims that prison bosses were racially biased.

But last night, an insider at Glasgow's Barlinnie jail dismissed the complaints.

He said: "Basically, they just wanted a curry. There were 12 or 14 complaints from one area of the jail and it just reeked of collusion."

In a rant about "double standards" and equal rights, one con called Happy moaned: "It was such blatant favouritism. There were a lot of unhappy prisoners on that day. Most of the prison population don't even know about the event.

"I feel the management went to a lot of trouble to stop anyone finding out

"The event lasted about an hour and a half, during which time the Muslim prisoners and their families were served a full sit-down menu.

"And white cons pretending to be Muslims were allowed to attend with their families.

"It's as if the whole prison system and the authorities bent over backwards to make it a grand day for those taking part. It's always the case when faith and colour are concerned."

And he whinged: "What did we get for Christmas? A lonely meal, probably prepared hours earlier because it wasn't fresh, in our cells. Certainly we didn't get luxury fruit salads with Devon cream or chilled drinks.

"All we got for afters was a star-shaped choc-ice."

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman confirmed an event with around five families took place in January.

He said Muslims made up the third-biggest population group in the prison and added: "We welcome the opportunity for all prisoners to celebrate their cultural and spiritual needs in an appropriate manner.

"All visitors and prisoners are treated appropriately and equally."


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PETERHEAD OFFICIAL REPORT

 

 

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/09/25161609/17


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Good stuff Illuminati

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Quote:
Originally Posted by illuminati

PETERHEAD OFFICIAL REPORT

 

 

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2006/09/25161609/17

Thank you for the link


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20 February 2007
JAIL WARDER ON CONTRABAND BRIBES CHARGE.

A PRISON officer has been charged with accepting bribes from cons to sneak illegal goods into jail.

Ian Fisher, 48, was arrested on Sunday after bosses at Greenock Prison allegedly caught him taking cash from prisoners.

The contraband goods are thought to be a mobile phone and a charger.

The arrest follows an undercover investigation into corruption at the jail by police, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency and prison bosses.

It is not known if any other officers will be charged.

Fisher yesterday appeared in private in Greenock sheriff court. He was released on bail last night.

A source said: "Prison bosses were tipped off that bribes from inmates were being made to take contraband in.

"Nobody knows how long it's been going on but the SCDEA have been investigating for a while. Nobody looks on things like this lightly. It's a serious matter and being treated very seriously."

Fisher, 6ft 2in tall and nicknamed Big Fish, was suspended three years ago after he was accused of getting a prisoner - hooker Helen Aitken, 27 - pregnant while working in the women's wing.

But Fisher returned to work after the allegations were never confirmed.

Asource said: "It was never proven that Fisher had been involved in an affair with an inmate. But this is a lot more serious."

Fisher has worked at Greenock jail for years. It houses prisoners on remand, those with short-term convictions and a number of criminals who have served more than 12 years for serious crimes and hope to be released.

Fisher lives next door to the jail with his wife Annmarie and their two daughters.

The SCDEA last night confirmed that Fisher was arrested on Sunday for an alleged contravention of the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889.

Last night, SCDEA crime coordinator Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Ward said: "This arrest sends out a clear message throughout Scotland that corruption will not be tolerated in any way.

"Those who engage in such illegal activity should expect to be identified and targeted in a robust and professional manner."

A spokesman for the Scotttish Prison Service said: "We can confirm that a member of staff has been arrested. We can make no further comment."

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: "We can confirm that Ian Donnan Fisher has been charged and released on bail."


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Rise in jail population recorded...
 
Prison officer
The prison service said staff were "coping well" with the numbers
Scotland's prison population increased by about 5% last year, statistics have revealed.

Scottish Prison Service figures showed that in 2006 the number of young offenders jailed in Scotland increased by 12% and female inmates rose by 6%.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson said measures had already been introduced to tackle the rising population.

The Scottish Conservatives said more prisons should be built while the SNP called for a review of sentencing.

The provisional statistics suggested that the average daily prison population increased by about 5% in 2006, to 7,111.

The average number of people locked up while awaiting trial rose by 24%.

'More pressure'

The figures also revealed the average number of prisoners sentenced to less than four years increased by about 3% to 2,776, while inmates serving longer sentences decreased by 2% to 2,854.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said staff were "coping extremely well" with the record numbers.

Ms Jamieson said: "More people in prison means more pressure on prison facilities, resources and staff.

"And this itself means less time to work with prisoners to address the behaviour that put them behind bars in the first place.

"That's why we are moving forward with action on three fronts."

Spain imprisons four times more people than Scotland relative to recorded crime, and Ireland three times more
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservative leader

The minister said measures introduced by the executive included an increased range of community sentences and record levels of investment in the prison estate.

However, Stewart Stevenson, the SNP prisons spokesman, said: "It's time for a credible and coherent prison policy that locks up dangerous offenders and deals with petty offenders in the community.

"Rather than filling up prisons with minor offenders and building private prisons that cost the taxpayer millions, an SNP government will ensure that prisons are used to detain dangerous criminals and punish serious offences."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said the executive should "have the courage" to build more prisons if they are needed.

"Spain imprisons four times more people than Scotland relative to recorded crime, and Ireland three times more," she said.

"Unsurprisingly, the deterrent is such that crimes per capita in both Ireland and Spain are around a quarter of the level here.

"The proper use of prison will eventually lead to a reduction in prisoner numbers, but that will only happen when more police are in our communities, we end the scandal of automatic early release, we adopt a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and put in place effective rehabilitation services."


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28 February 2007
FILTHY PANTS IN THE BAR-L.
 
Barlinnie
Barlinnie prisoners want to wear their own underwear.

PRISONERS at Scotland's largest jail are forced to wear stained, ill-fitting pants, an inspector's report said yesterday.

Dr Andrew McLellan criticised the standard issue underwear handed to cons at Barlinnie each morning and called for them to be allowed to wear their own clothes.

He also revealed that one in 10 prisoners is in the Glasgow jail for not paying fines.

In his report, Scotland's chief inspector of prisons said: "The underwear might fit or it might not fit. It might be stained or it might not.

"We have seen underwear which has been washed but I wouldn't call it clean."

The Scottish Prison Service said inmates wear prison-issue clothes, including underwear, at other jails in Scotland.

But Barlinnie, which is home to a fifth of Scotland's prisoners, is the only one in the country where inmates must wear only prison clothes.

The former Kirk Moderator's team of inspectors spent 10 days in Barlinnie in August.

He welcomed the abolition of slopping-out, which he hailed as "the most fantastic change I have seen in any prison".

But he warned that with 1500 inmates, the jail is 50 per cent above capacity.

He also cast doubt on the value of short sentences.

And he revealed that 10 per cent of inmates at the prison were serving time for failing to pay fines of under £300.

Barlinnie governor Bill McKinlay welcomed the report and said a working group were looking into the issue of prison clothing.

 

Barlinnie prison Inmates wear dirty underwear


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bullying in prisons
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Young offenders go on rampage...

Rioting has broken out at a young offenders' institute for the second time in three days.

Police say trouble at Deerbolt in County Durham lasted for around five hours but is now under control.

It is thought that a wing of the centre was taken over yesterday evening. Another area was destroyed by 40 inmates on Sunday with a police officer reportedly suffering a fractured skull.

Inspector Tony Bell of Durham Police said: "The situation is under control now and is not ongoing any more, it was all settled by 12.30am.

"All the inmates are safe, there is no one barricaded in and they are all under the control of the Prison Service. The disturbance was being dealt with by the Prison Service, the police were in attendance to see if any criminal offences were being committed.

"No arrests were made but it will be the subject of further investigation and arrests may be necessary."

The Home Office confirmed there was an incident at the institute but would not release any more details.


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3 March 2007
MCDEAL SCANDAL JAIL BOSS RESIGNS.

A PRISON boss has quit after being accused of supplying drug-dealing lawyer Angela Baillie with a mobile phone behind bars.

Residential manager Marion MacDonald is believed to have struck up a relationship with the jailed solicitor dubbed "Ally McDeal".

Her resignation spells the end of a successful and lengthy career at Cornton Vale, Stirlingshire.

But it is unlikely to have any impact on Baillie's early release plans.

The 33-year-old is hoping to be freed within weeks after serving less than half her sentence.

An insider said: "Giving a prisoner a mobile phone to use is a very serious matter and MacDonald knew her number was up so she resigned on the spot to save face.

"Acting on inside information, they found out that MacDonald was giving Baillie the phone to use when she was on night shift.

"It beggars belief how stupid this officer has been to put her career on the line for someone like Baillie.

"She must have been out of her mind to get involved with her. Handing a drug dealer a mobile phone in prison is professional suicide.

"But it won't affect Baillie's chances of early release."

Blonde MacDonald quit just before she was due to be hauled before bosses.

An insider added: "MacDonald was ordered in for an urgent meeting but minutes later she called up to say she was quitting the service.

"I think an immediate resignation speaks volumes."

Baillie, of Newton Mearns, Glasgow, was locked up for 32 months last April after smuggling diazepam into Barlinnie Prison for a con.

The single mum and former cocaine addict applied to be released early with an electronic tag and her bid is expected to be approved.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: "We do not comment on individual members of staff or prisoners."


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Barlinnie prison
 
The theatre company began working at Barlinnie three years ago.

 

A Scottish theatre group which works with prisoners at Barlinnie has been honoured at Buckingham Palace.

Theatre Nemo was set up by Isabel McCue after her son John, who spent six months in Barlinne and who suffered mental illness, took his own life.

Mrs McCue started the company to take drama and music into prisons, hospitals and community centres.

The Barlinnie project has now won the Butler Trust, award which recognises groups working with young offenders.

Mrs McCue, her son Hugh and Theatre Nemo workshop co-ordinator Rikki Traynor were presented with the award by Princess Anne in London.

The company was set up seven years ago and the Barlinnie project began in 2004.

 


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The lunacy that is our prison system



Every additional prisoner is a failure of the Scottish Executive to tackle the causes of crime

                Ruaridh Nicoll
Sunday March 11, 2007
The Observer
               

Saughton, Barlinnie, Peterhead and Perth. The names of Scotland's prisons are cold, hard and miserable. Apparently though, it just ain't so.

'They are some of the most positive prisons I have seen,' said Roger Houchin, a former governor of Barlinnie and now a co-director of the Glasgow Centre for the Study of Violence who regularly visits prisons across Europe to advise on their management. 'There are educational classes, employability preparation, rehabilitation programmes. And yet, if you add up everything positive that happens in prisons, the impact is trivial - perhaps 15 minutes of positive experience out of every 24 hours. The rest is boredom, fear, severance from normal relationships and emotional brutalisation.'

Still, we are clearly committed to our prisons. A new name is about to be added to the list. Addiewell, in West Lothian, is being built by private company Kalyx to hold 700 prisoners. Enlightened, perhaps; comfortable, no. Addiewell sits over mines on one of the most polluted brown-field sites in Scotland, in the shadow of slag heaps. Others are being reworked. Low Moss, near Bishopbriggs, is about to be closed so that it can be rebuilt to hold another 700.

The expansion is moving so fast that people are having difficulty keeping up. At a conference in Edinburgh, Professor Andrew Coyle of King's College, London, stood up and said Scotland spends £270m a year on its prisons. Tony Cameron, the chief executive of the Scottish prison service, interrupted to tell him he was wrong, that the figure had jumped to £340m. According to Houchin, it will soon be £425m.

Meanwhile, we are still jailing 6,000 people a year for non-payment of fines. Fifteen hundred people go in and out of Barlinnie every week, exactly the same number who are currently incarcerated there.

So, is this massive commitment to prisons the right approach? Andrew McLellan, the chief inspector, is proud that there is such investment in the prison estate. Modern flush lavatories have yet to arrive in parts of Peterhead and Polmont, but slopping out will soon be an odorous memory. There was a revelation a couple of weeks ago that prisoners in Barlinnie are not allocated underwear but are, instead, issued daily with pants that, while they have been laundered, retain stains from previous incumbents. That seemed more shocking than perhaps it was.

Currently, the prison population is a little over 7,000. Thanks to legislation currently passing through Parliament which insists that the sentences being handed down are served, this could jump by another 1,100. There is no backsliding here. Meanwhile, there is clear evidence that large sections of our prison population come from very localised areas of Scotland. Twenty eight per cent of the prisoner population comes from the poorest council estates, in neighbourhoods where incarceration rates for young men approach those of the most dangerous parts of the US.

Despite this, and despite Jack McConnell's war on small-time criminals, there is a sense in Scotland that we avoid the 'lock 'em up until they learn better' much beloved by the extreme fringes of England's Tory party. 'There is a Scottish way of looking at these problems,' says Houchin. What he means is that it seems deeply offensive to the Scottish sense of social justice not to concentrate on the causes of crime.

This turns out to be nonsense; another little mental bandage we use to protect ourselves from the painful truths of our criminal justice system. The absurdity is that those instincts that we believe to be our own are shared by those who work in the jails themselves, but not in government. Alastair MacDonald, the outgoing governor of Inverness jail, sounded distraught in an article published two weeks ago. 'Why are we locking up so many of our citizens?' he asked. 'What has gone wrong?'

It's little short of stunning when you consider what we pay to keep someone in prison - more than £30,000 a year. Our jails should produce old Etonians at that price. Dig further and the economics grow maddening. Even an ankle tag is hugely expensive, costing £9,000 for an average four months while community punishments cost as little as £1,000 a year. The SNP's justice spokesman Kenny MacAskill wants to stop building new jails and argues strongly that this does not make them soft on crime. 'We have to tackle drinks, drugs and deprivation, not simply lock up more and more people,' he said. 'We have to get the flotsam and jetsam out of the system.'

As others have written in these pages, it is wrong-headed to privatise the prison service. Even if the company is good - and Kalyx, which is building Addiewell does seem to be good - we end up paying far more in the long run. When they are bad - when they pay their stressed staff the minimum wage and when they draw those staff from the communities where the prisoners are also emerging from - then disaster is ensured. Poorly paid prison staff are easy prey to the enticements and threats of drug barons and the racketeers who move in to take control.

At current rates, every additional prisoner in the system should be seen as a failure of Cathy Jamieson and Jack McConnell's Executive. It is a failure to the communities, those deprived communities with so many people in jail, from which Labour draws its support. It is a failure to use our tax responsibly. It's ludicrous to think that someone who is robbed and sees the assailant through court is just going to be robbed again by the government that jails them.

Devolution is supposed to allow Scottish politicians to deal with unique Scottish problems. When it comes to jails, that has proved so much slop.

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11 March 2007
MY JAIL HELL BY RAMSAY'S JUNKIE BROTHER...

JAILED junkie Ronnie Ramsay stands dejected and alone in a rat-infested prison cell as he pleads with his long-suffering brother Gordon: "Please get me out of here."

Heroin addict Ronnie, 38, faces 10 years in a grim Balinese jail after being found slumped in a public toilet on the island, clutching a syringe and a £10 wrap of the killer drug.

Jobless Ronnie broke down as he told how he begged his Michelin-starred chef brother to buy his freedom for £6,000, but was told: "Sorry, but this time you're on your own."

Gordon has already bailed him out countless times and spent more than £300,000 trying to get his younger brother off drugs.

In an emotional 30-minute phone call to Gordon on Tuesday, Ronnie - arrested in a car park near Bali's Denpasar Airport three weeks ago - asked his brother to hire him a lawyer.

He sobbed: "I told him, 'Gordon, please help me. I have no one else to turn to. It has been made painfully clear to me - with a lawyer I could be out in a few months, but without one I will be left to rot in this hell-hole for the full 10 years. I could die in here. I know I've been a fool but surely you can't want that?'

"He told me that he loved me but said he couldn't give me the money."

Gordon has tried for many years to get his brother off drugs, including funding a £15,000 six-week rehabilitation course in Wiltshire three years ago. He has bought him a car, put down a year's rent on a beachside flat in Bali and paid for him to fix his teeth - ruined by 25 years of drug abuse.

Despite all this help, Ronnie has been unable to kick his drug habit.

Now he cuts a tragic figure in his prison cell. The startling blue stare is uncannily familiar. So too is the cut of the jaw, the dusty blond hair and the faint air of menace. But for the tracks of collapsed veins on his withered forearms, the tell-tale pinprick pupils and the prison bars he clings to, this man could be Gordon Ramsay.

Like a true addict, Ronnie is quick to blame his current predicament on anyone but himself. He says: "Gordon's kitchen alone cost £500,000 and he drives a Ferrari. For less than a new set of wheels he could get me out of jail. I feel I've been hung out to dry.

"I love my brother and my mother and sisters. But their love for me is conditional.

They only love me if I'm clean. Love shouldn't be like that."

Life should have been so different for Ronnie. He had always been the golden one, adored by his father, spoiled by his mother.

As a young man he was a talented mechanic earning more than struggling cook Gordon.

Both are obsessives. But they took wildly differing paths. Today, one is a multimillionaire with a worldwide business empire.

The other is a penniless junkie looking at years behind bars and an early death. Gordon, 40, has built up his £60million fortune as one of the world's most successful chefs, while Ronnie squandered his young promise on a life of drugs and degradation.

But he is quick to blame his addiction on the brutal father who used to beat his wife and sons in drunken rages.

"I first saw my father beating my mother when I was only five years old," he says. "That is devastating for a child to see and, yes, it probably scarred my life.

"I was scared of him. He took a belt to me too many times. He beat us all. I think that's why I found it so easy to turn to drugs.

THAT was always my way out. Gordon and I were very similar when we were younger. We just chose different directions.

"He was able to escape the torment of our past by working 18 hours a day. I chose the other way. Drugs. I've been addicted to heroin and crack cocaine for 18 years. I shot up for the first time when I was working as a docker in Holland - but I started sniffing solvents when I was just 13."

When the brothers last met, at Gordon's house in London five months ago, the married father-of-four handed Ronnie a ticket to Bali and £1,200 so he could re-train as an English teacher. But the money is long gone - on drugs. Ronnie never took the course.

At the time Gordon said: "If there is a situation with Ronnie where he needs money I do it because it doesn't get on my mum's doorstep. I don't think my mum, at 60, should still be putting up with it. It is like having an 18-year-old to look after."

Since Ronnie's arrest, Gordon has sent a drug counsellor to Bali to get a full picture of the situation. "I think it's a combination of tough love and because Gordon is fed up with me. He sent someone but he just wanted reassurance that it wasn't a story I'd concocted to extract more money from my family. This is no trick. I'm locked up alongside murderers, rapists and paedophiles. And I'm terrified for my life."

He's a pathetic figure in his cell at Poltabes police station in Denpasar, the Balinese capital, in his grubby blue vest, swimming trunks and flip-flops. His fingers are darkly stained from the cigarettes he chain-smokes.

His pupils are still like pinpricks because he's still taking a £5-a-day heroin substitute in jail.

"Without that I'd be going cold turkey," he says. "And the pain is impossible to describe.

You can't move. You're sweating, you're cold, then you're hot, your legs ache and you have stomach cramps. You can't eat, you can't sleep, you can't get comfortable.

"This time I really believe I can kick the drugs for good but I know I've had more chances than I deserve."

He shares a 10ft square concrete dug-out with another prisoner - also a heroin addict.

They are woken each day at 6.30am and led into an open-air exercise area until 11pm when they are returned to their cell and locked up.

The 50 inmates here are given just two bowls of rice a day - at 11am and 5pm. There is a single stained mattress on the floor, a bucket and a trough of water for drinking, bathing and flushing the dirt-encrusted hole-in-the-ground in the corner.

Next week Ronnie will be transferred to the island's even tougher Kerobokan jail where he will be sentenced at a special meeting with a judge and the prosecutor. This grim concrete complex is topped by razor wire and broken glass, and patrolled by guards armed with machine guns and pistols.

Ronnie claims he was clean for 18 months after his brother paid for him to go into rehab in August 2004 but that a motorbike crash in Thailand a year later set him back. "They gave me morphine in hospital and that got me hooked again," he says.

In his autobiography, Humble Pie, Gordon told how, when his alcoholic father died, the only way he could coax Ronnie to the funeral was to buy him a fix of heroin.

Ronnie bites his lip. "I have a lot of emotions - guilt and shame. It's been tough for my mother. And of course that upsets me.

But as an addict you only think of one thing - your next hit.

"There are divisions in my family but I desperately want to try to re-establish a normal, loving relationship with them all.

And I would love my mother to see me with a family of my own one day."

THERE is just a glimmer of hope for Ronnie. Sitting quietly by his side in the interrogation room where we meet later is his Indonesian girlfriend - a pretty 24-year-old called Indy.

Ronnie adds: "Indy has been a rock. We have only been together for four months but we are going to get married when I get out."

But, sitting there, sweating and shaking, it is hard to imagine Ronnie as a transformed character, free at last of drugs. The fact that he doesn't know Indy's surname doesn't bode well, either.

This is, after all, an addict who was introduced to his dealer by a friend he met at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting above a bar in Seminyak in Bali.

Ronnie was arrested on February 12 in the car park outside the Ayu Nadi supermarket in run-down Tuban. The squat toilet there - in which he admits he routinely injected himself - is just four miles from the £50-a-month room he had in Kerobokan, near the prison.

The walls of the toilet are smeared with faeces and crude graffiti. A blood-stained bandage lies discarded on the floor.

Only a truly desperate man would consider even stepping inside, let alone rolling up a trouser-leg to inject his feet with street-bought smack.

Ronnie was found with a Marlboro packet containing a small roll of heroin, and arrested by three police officers.

Local solicitor Erwin Siregar explains: "Ronnie will be transferred from his police cell to the main prison next week to await a hearing with the judge. He will decide whether to charge him with possession or, simply, with addiction - a sentence of either up to 10 years or six months."

Yesterday a friend of the star chef said: "Gordon is at his wit's end over Ronnie. He's spent around £300,000 helping him, buying flats, cars, setting him up in businesses, enrolling him on courses but nothing has worked.

"It pains him to see his elderly mother so devastated over this. He sent a drug counsellor who knows Ronnie over to give him a report on what's happening but is coming to the conclusion it's time for some tough love."

Back at Poltabes police station, the guard raps once on the window. It is time for Ronnie to return to his cell. He hugs his girlfriend, cadges one last cigarette and shuffles off.

He turns at the door: "Tell Gordon I'm sorry."


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Tuesday March 13, 2007


A warden looks out of an empty cell at HMP Bronzefield, a women’s prison in Ashford, Middlesex.
A warden looks out of an empty cell at HMP Bronzefield, a women’s prison in Ashford, Middlesex. Photograph: Martin Argles
 


Existing women's prisons should be closed down and replaced with small secure units as part of a radical 10-year reform programme, an official report recommended today.

The study by the Labour peer, Baroness Corston, was commissioned by the Home Office to investigate the way women offenders are treated by the criminal justice system.

It was prompted by the self-inflicted deaths of six women at Styal prison in Cheshire between August 2002 and 2003.

 

If adopted by the home secretary, her radical approach would see the 17 women's prisons in England and Wales shut down or converted to male jails.

Women offenders would instead be held in small, secure centres where they could be closer to their homes and families.

Lady Corston also recommended a significant reduction in the overall number of women who are sent to jail, with a new framework for community punishments as an alternative.

Among 43 recommendations, is a call for a ban on routine strip-searching of women in prison, a government "champion" to oversee policy on women offenders and a network of women's community centre for those at risk of offending.

There are currently 4,300 women in jail in England and Wales. A study by the Prison Reform Trust found that 40% of female prisoners have attempted suicide at some time.

The report was welcomed by criminal justice charities, which have long argued that women would be more effectively diverted from crime through treatment and support.

Frances Crook, director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, described the report's recommendations as a "once in a generation opportunity".

She said: "For women who offend, prison simply doesn't work. It is time to end the use of traditional prisons for women.

"If the government fails to take radical action it will be held accountable for the deaths and injuries of women in prisons for years to come."

A group of 16 charities, including the Fawcett Society, Inquest, Nacro and the Prison Reform Trust, issued a joint statement welcoming the direction of the report.

The coalition said: "The Corston Review signals a profound shift in the debate on women's imprisonment away from abstract questions of what to do. The burning questions for the government now are how and when to implement the recommendations."

Last year, three women took their own lives in prison, following four in 2005 and 13 in 2004. So far this year, two female prisoners have apparently taken their own lives.

Home Office minister Baroness Scotland welcomed the report and described it as a "significant step forward" in the care of women prisoners.




Related articles
12.07.2001: Jailing women 'is a waste of money'
13.12.2000: Number of jailed women doubles
30.01.2001: Libby Brooks on our female prison population
01.11.2001: Jail crowding alarms ministers
01.11.2001: Leader: policy behind bars
01.11.2001: Two deaths at suicide-prone women's jail
25.07.2001: Children imprisoned with their mothers
18.05.2001: Mothers in jail cannot care for babies after 18 months
31.01.2001: Children with imprisoned parents
30.01.2001: Cut jail population to minimum, Blair told
15.12.2000: Judges get a lesson in sex and gender

Big issue
Crime and punishment

Useful sites
Home Office
Prison Reform Trust
Howard League for Penal Reform
Nacro


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