Prison Dress Code For Visitors At HMP Oakwood 'Like Saudi Arabia'

'This Is Wolverhampton, Not Saudi Arabia'
A mini skirt is seen in central London.
A mini skirt is seen in central London.

A prison has introduced a strict dress code - for visitors.

HMP Oakwood's directive was compared to Saudi Arabia by prison reform campaigners, who said it would affect women trying to visit their partners who were behind bars.

Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the rules were enforced "randomly" at the Wolverhampton prison, managed by controversial security firm G4S.

G4S has not responded to requests for comment, but a statement on the prison's website says: "The Visits facility at HMP Oakwood is a family focussed area and as such visitors are expected to dress and act accordingly."

The dress code in full:

Large coats: Cardigans and jumpers are permitted but outer garments may not be worn in the Visits Hall and should be hung up on the hooks provided.

Hats: May not be worn in the visits hall with the exception of religious head wear. (E.g. Sikh turbans, Jewish yarmulkes, Muslim caps, Muslim women’s headscarves, Rastafarian hats). These will be subject to searching as per HMP Oakwood searching policy.

Gloves/scarves: May not be worn. These should be left in the lockers provided.

Hooded tops: May not be worn.

Skirts: Skirts must be of reasonable length and reach the knee in the standing position.

Shorts: High cut shorts are not permitted.

Dresses: Dresses must be of reasonable length and reach the knee in the standing position

Tops: Must be sufficient to cover both breasts and the midriff area and must not be transparent. Cleavage must be appropriately covered so as not to cause offence. Athletic singlet’s are not permitted.

Trousers: Torn jeans with holes revealing the buttocks or underwear may not be worn.

Logos: Clothing with any logos connected to a sporting team may not be worn. This only applies to visitors who are 13 and over. Clothing displaying offensive patterns or logos will not be permitted (such as cannabis leaves, racist logos or offensive language).

Visitors are also warned to avoid "inappropriate physical interaction", which includes "prolonged intimate kissing, caressing of another person’s torso or lower region or physical exposure by either party of their chests, breasts or genitalia."

Writing on the Howard League blog, Crook said: "It might be suitable in Saudi Arabia but doesn’t sit well in Wolverhampton. It is also inconsistently and arbitrarily applied so that it stops women from visiting their partners."

A woman who wore a skirt over leggings was told to remove it, leaving her in just her tights, Crook claimed, while other women had been sent home because their skirts were an inch too short.


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