The "robustly independent voice" of prison inspectors is endangered by Downing Street plans to create a merged inspection team covering the whole criminal justice system, the chief inspector of prisons has warned.

Anne Owers has told the Guardian she is "troubled" by the merger expected to be announced by Tony Blair next month. She fears that the scale of inspections of individual prisons could be reduced.
There is concern that the merger plan will reduce inspectors to measuring whether government performance targets are met.

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