Jail staff ‘can’t distinguish inmate sex and rape’

The revelations came to light as part of a Howard League study. Picture: Sean Bell
The revelations came to light as part of a Howard League study. Picture: Sean Bell
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Prison staff find it nearly ­impossible to distinguish between consensual sex and rape in prison, a study has been told.

Prison governors told an ­independent commission, set up by campaigners the Howard League for Penal Reform, that it was “difficult, if not impossible” for staff to distinguish between “consensual and coercive sex” between inmates.

Prisoners are also a high-risk group for sexually transmitted infections and risk-taking sexual behaviour, the Howard League warned.

The Prison Service does not allow prisoners to have sex, but there is no prison rule specifically prohibiting sexual acts between inmates, it added.
Commission chairman Chris Sheffield said: “There is evidence to show that sex in prison does happen. There is no prison rule prohibiting sex between ­prisoners.

“Prisons need to ensure that they protect the vulnerable.

“The need for harm-reduction measures and the delivery of sexual-health policies are important, not just for prisoners but wider society.”

Sexual health in jails is important for the public as well as inmates, the Howard League added, as most prisoners will eventually return to the ­community.

Its commission is made up of academics, former prison governors and health ­experts.