Female prisoners 'given vodka and fags for sex acts on guards'
Prisoners report staff-inmate relations in first independent review of sex behind bars
FEMALE inmates in prisons have been coerced into performing "sex acts" on prison staff in return for alcohol and cigarettes, according to a new report.
The findings were published by the Commission on Sex in Prison, set up by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Following a two-year investigation, it is due to publish the first independent review of sex behind bars in England and Wales later this year.
In a preliminary briefing, published today, the Commission says it has heard evidence of positive interactions between staff and prisoners, but also that some staff have developed "inappropriate or coercive relationships with women".
Prisoners reported examples of staff-inmate relationships, staff who had been disciplined for rumoured involvement with a prisoner, and prison officers with a reputation for "sleaziness" or who were known to bring luxuries such as perfume into the prison for particular inmates.
The report also refers to "decrotching", a form of sexual assault believed to have occurred in jails, which involves female prisoners forcibly retrieving drugs from another inmate's body.
The Commission highlights a 2009 report in The Guardian that describes how a former prisoner was frequently propositioned to have sex with both male and female staff during her sentence, and how one male officer promised to let her return to the prison from day release with drugs and alcohol in return for sex.
"Other former prisoners described how they received tobacco or vodka in return for performing sexual acts on male prison officers," says the Commission. It notes, however, that abuse did not appear to be widespread.
The Prison Service says that reported incidents of sexual assault in prison are "rare" and that it does not condone any sort of sex in prisons. It adds that where an alleged sexual assault is reported or discovered it will be investigated and reported to the police if required.
Prison staff who breach strict rules against sexual involvement with prisoners face disciplinary action or prosecution for misconduct in a public office.