Commission on Sex in Prison

The Howard League for Penal Reform established an independent Commission on Sex in Prison to undertake the first ever review of sex inside prison.

There is currently little reliable evidence available on consensual or coercive sexual activity in prisons in England and Wales. Throughout 2013 and 2014, Commissioners focused on three broad themes:

  • consensual sex in prison
  • coercive sex in prison
  • healthy sexual development among young people in prison

The Commission on Sex in Prison considered coercive sex, which could involve rape, harrassment, intimidation, assault or bribery. Commissioners examined the issues surrounding consensual sexual relationships in prison, where sex is not allowed, and investigated the impact of imprisonment on adolescents who are developing a sexual self concept and exploring intimate relationships. 

The purpose of the Commission on Sex in Prison was to understand the nature and scale of sex in prisons, investigate the key issues and problems and make recommendations with a view to make prisons safer.

The Commission held a national conferences on Sex Behind Bars in March 2015 which concluded the work of the Commission and launched the final report.

Read about the Commission's achievements