Female prisoners being forcibly strip searched.

(48 Posts)
allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 09:07:17


Women in New Hall Prison have been subject to being restrained, having their clothes cut off and then being forcibly strip searched. This in my eyes is sexual assault no? The chief inspector of prisons has described these assaults as unnaceptable, but as far as I can see they aren't actually punishing anyone involved or offering any support to the women.

Uppercut Wed 29-Aug-12 11:04:17

Do you think the officers should be charged with sexual assault because they forcibly removed the clothes from a prisoner? It's a prison, not a holiday camp.

I'm not sure why this a feminist issue.

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 11:15:44

Actually, I thought strip searching involved cavity searches. But I just googled it and it doesn't blush.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 11:37:17

Apparently clothes are only cut off in very extreme situations where a prisoner is resisting a search, and scissors are used to cut clothes off for safety/hygiene reasons. (Sounds strange, I know, bit there you go.)
As I understand it, such searches have taken place at New Hall where the force used has in fact been seen to be disproportionate to the aim.
So it seems that there's a basic human rights issue.
We could discuss endlessly whether or not this particular issue is 'gendered'.
Perhaps other posters have information that would enable to do this with substantiated arguments.

I saw Yahoo's reporting of this, thought it was quite salacious, a possible feminist issue there?

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 12:06:26

Yes I agree it's a human rights issue. I shouldn't have posted it here but I misunderstood the term 'strip searched' and believed that the women had been subject to forceful internal examinations of their vaginas. This is why I thought it was a feminist issue.

Uppercut Wed 29-Aug-12 12:14:58

Substantiated arguments would be nice. Tropes and anecdotes will be more likely.

That aside, which specific sentences of Yahoo's reporting did you find "salacious"?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Aug-12 12:33:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Uppercut Wed 29-Aug-12 13:07:12

"It is a feminist issue. Feminism is a political theory. Everything can be analysed from a feminist POV. That's kinda the point."

Applying a gender-based political theory to things that patently have nothing to do with gender in practice is asinine, unless of course you can prove there is a causative link between A and B. Otherwise the design of ball-bearings, how much you feed your pet hamster, and annual rainfall levels over the mid-Pacific become 'feminist issues'.

In that context feminist theory becomes a joke.

"If the Chief Inspector of the Prisons deems these "unacceptable", then he damn well should be doing something to stop them by targeting the men who are assaulting the prisoners in this manner. Whilst he's at it, he could also have a think about the rate of rapes perpetrated by guards in prisons."

She was strip searched, 'assaulted', by men? Where does it say that?

Your comment about rape is irrelevant to the issue in this thread. She was strip-searched, not raped.

Whatmeworry Wed 29-Aug-12 13:19:12

If the Chief Inspector of the Prisons deems these "unacceptable", then he damn well should be doing something to stop them by targeting the men who are assaulting the prisoners in this manner

Aren't strip searches in prison always done by women guards?

mayorquimby Wed 29-Aug-12 13:32:22

Anyone know what happens to men in prison who refuse a strip search?

"targeting the men who are assaulting the prisoners in this manner"

How do you know the gender of the guards performing this in a female prison?

londonone Wed 29-Aug-12 13:35:22

My guess would be that the strip searches are carried out by women officers. Also cavity searches of both sexes take place, due to the fact that prisoners of both sexes consider various orifices to be appropriate places to secrete items such as drugs and phones. It is standard for prisoners to be strip searched on entry to prison, it is my understanding that these searches are carried out by officers who are the same sex as the prisoner

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 13:42:54

If the prisoners were restrained and forcibly examined internally, then I would consider this sexual assault no matter the sex of the person doing the examination.

mayorquimby Wed 29-Aug-12 14:00:20

So would you ban cavity searches entirely? Or how would you combat prisoners who declined?
Indefinite solitary confinement until they agree would be the only thing I could think of.

ithastobeNAICEham Wed 29-Aug-12 14:00:58

Just thought I would make a point here, in male prisons the same applies. If a prisoner refuses a search, their clothes will be cut off. This happens in all males prisons, except the privately funded ones (usually run by G4S)

It's not something new, nor is it in breech of their human rights. Plus it is for their own good, rather they be strip searched than take some home made dope and die.

You know what the rules are in prison and if you choose to go against them, you chose to be punished.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:09:26

Yes, SGM, everything can be a feminist issue. But if you're really a feminist and not just someone who loves to make lots of loud and embarrassing noise, it kind of helps if you are in possession of and understand basic facts and principles before you start huffing and puffing.
Just saying.

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 14:09:52

I'm not sure how they work, so I could be wrong. But could those full body scanners not be used instead? (Like the ones used in airports)

I don't necessarily oppose cavity searches, though I would prefer a more dignified way of checking people if that was possible.

My experiences of dealing with prison inmates or being a prison inmate are zero, so I can't speak with any authority on the matter. But I believe that as human beings we all have the potential to be the worst, or the best of humanity, and just because prisoners have made bad decisions and commited offences, doesn't mean they are somehow less human. They still deserve to be treated with a reasonable ammount of dignity and respect.

The article suggests that the prison officers were not seeking more appropriate, non aggresstive methods of gaining the prisoners' permission first, just diving right in to restraining, cutting clothes and enforced strip searches. (I am still unclear whether or not this includes cavity searches)

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:11:13

And there seems to be a fair amount of confusion on this thread between strip searches and internal searches.

And SGM, investigation of rape of prisoners by guards (or anyone else) would be completely separate to looking at proportionality WRT procedure.

Viviennemary Wed 29-Aug-12 14:14:23

What about at airports. People get searched there. Sorry no sympathy here.

unhombre Wed 29-Aug-12 14:15:31

Despite posters with over-active imaginations (or just problems with reading), this isn't a feminist issue, and neither is it a matter of male violence, or rape. There is a need to ensure certain provisions/rules are maintained in a highly charged environment like a prison.

Margerykemp Wed 29-Aug-12 14:21:25

That is awful!

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:22:32

I would be cautious about saying it isn't a feminist issue as I agree with SGM that anything is potentially a feminist issue, and I think that WRT institutions such as prisons, designed by men, for men, this is particularly important.

Margerykemp Wed 29-Aug-12 14:22:40

If it involves women it is a feminist issue. End of.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:23:51

How is it a feminist issue, though, Margery?

Margerykemp Wed 29-Aug-12 14:29:31

All issues that involve women are feminist issues. It's really quite simple.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:31:51

Uppercut - sorry, I only just saw your question.

The Yahoo page I saw has a headline which just says:
Cutting off women's clothes 'unacceptable'

- which just seems creepy, odd, beside the point and erm... salacious, to me.

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 14:32:21

This particular article is written about something that has happened in a specific women's prison. Not something that happens in all prisons. So I'm sure that it can be looked at from a feminist perspective.

The ISSUE is that the guards are not acting appropriately. Many posters have mentioned that strip searches happen in all prisons regardless of sex. But this thread is about one article that describes the guards of one single female prison using innapropriate force to stripsearch female inmates, without following the correct protocol.

I personally, after considering it, think that it probably is more of a human rights topic, than a feminist one. But I don't think it is fair to say that it can't be discussed in terms of feminism.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:33:01

That answers 'why', generally, but not 'how' WRT to this issue, though, Margery.

MrsHoarder Wed 29-Aug-12 14:34:17

Even if men are treated equally?

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:34:29

Are you sure that this doesn't happen in all prisons, all? (I'm not saying I think it does, I don't know, I'm just asking how you know this is specific to New Hall.)

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:35:42

Sorry - it would be highly unlikely to happen in all prisons.
But is this really something that only happens at New Hall?
And if so, why?

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 29-Aug-12 14:36:09

I will check out tomorrow that the same procedure is followed in male prisons, and find the PSI (Prison Service Instruction) that deals with this.

I am nor sure that body cavity searches are carried out at all these days.

They have chairs for prisoners to sit on that scan cavities. Called BOSE chairs or something like that.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 14:38:42

Thank you, Norman! smile

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 14:40:07

I don't know it's specific to New Hall, just that the thread is about the article which is about New Hall specifically.

The article does quote the inspector for all prisons though, so I have assumed that he has access to the reports from all the other UK prisons and has singled New Hall out for a reason.

allthegoodnamesweretaken Wed 29-Aug-12 14:41:58

I didn't know that Norma I think that sounds a lot better than cavity searches.

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 29-Aug-12 14:52:28

The searching policy is on the internet


body cavities will only be searched by medical personnel. And only with consent, and only in the case of clinical need (not for searching purposes).

Men can be asked to sqat, in order that their genital area be examined. Women should not be asked to squat.

I think it also says that both of the officers must be the same sex as the offender.

That said, the whole treatment of female prisoners, the rate of mental health problems, the self harm rates in prison, etc., etc., are of real concern, and a femanist issue.

May start a seperate thread when I have more time (and am not about to go on a teleconference).

Uppercut Wed 29-Aug-12 14:55:34

Boss chairs can't detect drugs, so cavity searches are sometimes still required.

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 29-Aug-12 14:57:06

It says in the policy that cavity searches are not undertaken by prison officers, and only by medical staff on clinical need.

You can bet they would get their ass (scuse pun) sued if they did not follow the policy. Unless you have seen something more recent?

Whatmeworry Wed 29-Aug-12 15:39:42

If it involves women it is a feminist issue. End of

But surely some are more critical than other...ie if there is already parity/equality in something (as would seem to teh the case here, its more a non-issue.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 29-Aug-12 19:22:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 19:47:33

Er, yes, I know what you were responding to, SGM, but as I said above, investigating procedure as in this instance would be rather different from investigating the rape of prisoners (and were you referring to specific rape(s), or was this a figment of your imagination? --something to huff and puff about--)
... and it did seem that there was a fair of confusion WRT strip/internal searches. But perhaps you hadn't noticed that. (Didn't mean to sound patronising there...)
I've never thought you're completely fucking stupid, BTW.

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 29-Aug-12 19:57:22

The rape, or sexual exploitation of female prisoners does take place.

Some prison officers were convicted within the last 12 months of this,

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 29-Aug-12 19:58:11

oh and naice italics Mango hmm

unhombre Wed 29-Aug-12 19:59:45

and telling someone to piss off is always the winning argument, isn't it?hmm

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 20:10:30

Yes, the rape and exploitation of female prisoners takes place. And should face criminal sanctions, obviously.

But my understanding is that legally that's a compltely separate area from procedure in women's prisons, which in this case would be a human rights issue possibly with gender-related issues attached. (Hope those italics haven't distracted you too much Norm.)

And if this is discussed as a gendered HR issue, it seems to muddy the waters a bit by chucking discussion of unrelated crimes into the argument.

(And I've every right to point that out, SGM. If you feel patronised, that's not my issue. I don't believe we're all obliged to agree with each other on MN are we?)

GhostShip Wed 29-Aug-12 20:14:49

This happens to men too. There are reasons for it.

TheFidgetySheep Wed 29-Aug-12 20:27:41

Important to remember why searches are necessary. Removing weapons, drugs and items used to self harm can mean someone is searched for his or her own safety and well being.

However, physically searching someone who does not consent to it, is very difficult.

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 29-Aug-12 20:31:43

I never said that the searching of prisoners is related to rape/sexual assault. The searching is done by same sex officers as well. Most of the criminal cases I have heard/read about are more related to gaining benefit (more ROTL or release on temp licence for example).

As I said earlier, the treatment of women by the criminal justice system has some real questions to answer. I am not sure that cutting clothes off offenders who have been refusing a search is the place to start though...

LastMangoInParis Wed 29-Aug-12 20:40:33

If your first sentence is addressed to me, I know you haven't, Norma.
(You'd have to read back through the thread to see comments that chuck in criminal assaults on prisoners with procedural errors... Anyway, let's get past that please.)

I agree, (and said above) there are massive issues with the treatment of women in prisons. My understanding is that any potential infringement on individual prisoners' rights had to be proportionate to the aim (and clearly the possiblity/probability that cutting clothes at New Hall was disproportionate to aim to be achieved). So that in intself would be a straightforward HR issue (I think). But I wonder to what extent gender has been taken into account in these sorts of cases in relation to 'proportionality'?

I hope that makes sense. Would be very happy indeed if someone who knows about this can elucidate a bit. (And wouldn't feel patronised at all.)

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