Male prisoners are frequently being denied access to condoms, the Chief Inspector of Prisons has revealed.
In one case an HIV positive inmate who was having unprotected sex with another prisoner was refused condoms by jail staff.
At another prison, staff claimed none of their inmates were gay and therefore argued that they didn’t need to provide them with protection.
The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, has revealed attitudes among prison staff as part of the evidence he presented to the Commission into Sex in Prisons, launched by the Howard League for Penal Reform last year.
Officially, sexual relationships between prisoners – as well as between staff and inmates – are prohibited because cells are “public places”.
But prisoners should have free access to protection and condoms must be supplied if prisoners are thought to be at risk of contracting HIV or another STI.
Mr Hardwick said the Prison Service should implement a “uniform approach” to providing protection and spoke of his fears that inmates could be contracting sexually transmitted diseases because prisons are failing to support them.
He also believes more needs to be done to protect prisoners from sexual assault.
Between 2007 and 2012, six inmates died in sexually related incidents in the UK prison system.
The commission heard that in 2008, a prisoner referred to as Mr E was murdered by his cellmate Mr F who had allegedly sexually assaulted two prisoners on previous occasions.
Mr F had been convicted of the rape of an adult male two years before Mr E’s death.
Chris Sheffield, chairman of the Commission into Sex in Prison, said: “We know very little about sex in prison. No one knows how many people are sexually assaulted in prison every year, or whether some prisoners are having underage sex, perhaps putting their health or their partner’s health at risk.”