Behind closed bars

Behind closed bars: Sex in prison

This one day national conference was held on Tuesday 17 March 2015 at the King's Fund,  London. 

The conference explored the issues and problems around sex in prison. There is currently little reliable evidence on both consensual and coercive sexual activity in prisons. The Commission on Sex in Prison, established by the Howard League for Penal Reform, has conducted primary research with former prisoners exploring their experiences of consensual and coercive sex in prison. The conference highlighted the key findings of the Commission and explored why a mature approach to consensual sex in prison is needed and why sex in prison should be seen within the wider agenda of public health. It looked at the impact of prison custody on the healthy sexual development of children. It highlighted the complexities of sexual development and sexual activity within the confines of prison and the implications for staff in responding to sex behind bars.

Speakers and themes

The morning session provided a broad overview of the work of the Commission on Sex in Prison and examined the approach to coercive sex in prisons in the US. It was chaired by Chris Sheffield, Chair of the Commission on Sex in Prison and the speakers were: Sara Llewellin, Chief Executive, Barrow Cadbury Trust; Frances Crook, Chief Executive, the Howard League for Penal Reform; Professor Pamela Taylor, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry, Cardiff University and Lovisa Stannow, Executive Director, Just Detention International.

This was followed by “In conversation with…”. The session focused on the research conducted by the Commission on Sex in Prison. The conversation with Dr Alisa Stevens, Lecturer in Criminology, Southampton University and Andrew Neilson, Director of Campaigns, the Howard League for Penal Reform was chaired by Phillippa Kaufmann QC, Matrix Chambers. 

The final session looked at the healthy sexual development of children in prison and focused on the impact of imprisonment on adolescents who are developing a sexual self-concept and exploring intimate relationships. It was chaired by Professor Neil Chakraborti, Professor of Criminology, University of Leicester with presentations by Louise Bowers, Registered Forensic & Chartered Psychologist; Director, Forensic Psychologist Service Ltd, Dr Laura Janes, Legal Director, the Howard League for Penal Reform and Lorraine Atkinson, Senior Policy Officer, the Howard League for Penal Reform

Download the presentation slides from the session:

You can read a blog by Prison Watch UK who were live blogging at the conference.