It is one of the most notorious jails in the land. But with its long sterile corridors, its daily cases of self-inflicted burnings, cuttings, poisonings and head-banging, and its record of suicide attempts, you would think the modern, low, red-bricked building in a well-to-do area of north London was a psychiatric hospital.

But it is not. This is Holloway prison for women and, on the outside at least, with its grass verges, far removed from the foreboding Victorian institutions of popular imagination.

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