27/06/2012 06:55 BST

Sex In Prison: Howard League Launching First Study Into Issues

Prison reform body the Howard League is launching the first ever study of sex in prison, it was announced on Wednesday.

The two-year study will look into consensual sex in prison, rape in prison and sexual development in young people who are imprisoned.

Currently little is known about the amount of sex in prison, both consensual and non-consensual, and conjugal visits are banned in prisons in the UK.

The Howard League said: "The purpose of the commission is to understand the nature and the scale of the issues and problems, making a series of recommendations with a view to making prisons safer. It will also examine how the situation in England and Wales differs from other international contexts, looking for best practice. 


"The Commission on Sex in Prison will undertake primary research, conduct visits and hear evidence from experts. It is expected to publish briefings on interim findings and produce a final report at the end of the two year investigation."

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League, told the BBC: "These are three very big issues that have huge implications for the justice system. Nobody has looked at these at all in this country."

"If you have a 15-year-old who is jailed for two years, they are missing out on what their friends are getting which is the development of their relationships, girlfriends and so on," she said.

"They come out of prison with none of these experiences and we expect them, as a miracle, to catch up."

Crook said the UK was "behind the times" in talking about these issues, pointing out that most other European countries allow conjugal visits.

The commission will be headed up by Dr Chris Sheffield, a senior advisor to Salford University Centre for Prison Studies.