Holloway prison, in North London, holds up to 500 female inmates and is the largest women’s prison in Europe. Incarcerated behind heavy security is a complete cross section of criminals, from petty villains and drug-addicted prostitutes to swindling fraudsters and high profile murderers. Many are seasoned re-offenders schooled in the ways of prison life.
With unprecedented access, this brand new three part series follows the lives of the prisoners, prison officers, from Governor down, and medical staff, who make up this complex, noisy and disturbed community - in order to reveal the truth behind Holloway Prison.
The documentary will afford viewers a unique and revealing insight into prison life and female criminality today and demonstrates the practical function Holloway serves in the lives of the inmates – from the fear it holds for the first time offender worried she is entering a real life ‘Bad Girls’ to the recidivists who use it as a refuge from their chaotic lives on the outside, or as a free drug rehab facility.
Holloway’s population is transient, some are on their way to other prisons, others to and from court, some are lucky enough to be going home, but many are coming back. Over a half of women released from Holloway make the return journey.
Up to 80 per cent of the inmates have drug issues and many have mental health problems and are unwanted by a society which has washed its hands of them.
Holloway has no such luxury. “Our actual duty is not only to make sure these damaged women are held safely in our custody but it is also to make sure that they are treated humanely and encouraged to reduce their re-offending and successfully reintegrate back into society.” says Sue Saunders, Governor of Holloway.
These three compelling films show staff facing this challenge, made all the more difficult by an intake of increasingly violent young offenders.