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The chief inspector of prisons has attacked government plans for dealing with people with 'dangerous, severe personality disorder'.

Sir David Ramsbotham said he was 'instantly concerned when words like 'dangerous'' come in' because 'dangerous' was 'emotive' and 'did not add anything to the debate'.

Home secretary Jack Straw and health secretary Frank Dobson published proposals for dealing with 'DSPD individuals' in July.

One plan provides for a new legal framework under which they would be held in new facilities outside the prison or health systems.

A less drastic option proposes 'strengthening' existing legislation so they can be held in prison or hospital.

The plans have already been widely criticised for allowing people judged dangerous to be locked up indefinitely.

Sir David told a conference on the future of prison healthcare that he would be 'pleading' for the 'D' to be dropped so that services could concentrate on the 'PD' and the 'SPD'.

He also attacked plans for a 'third force', saying resources should be concentrated on the prison and health services.

The government estimates that 2,500 people would be affected by its proposals, of whom 1,400 are in prison and 400 inhospitals.

Dr John O'Grady, a consultant forensic psychiatrist at Ravenswood House medium-secure unit in Hampshire, said the government was 'looking fortreatability'.

'What the government wants to do is make dangerous people ill and dangerousness is not an illness and never has been,' he said.

'There is a whole spectrum of people in prison and trying to take one set of people out and set up some special way to deal with them beggars belief, really.'

See news focus, page 18.