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To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, pursuant to the Answer of 25 October to Question 182159 on Prisons: Sexual Offences, what support his Department provides to prisoners who report sexual assault.
Any sexual assault that takes place in prison is deplorable, and all reported incidents are referred to the police for investigation. In 2017 less than 1.3% of all reported assaults on prisoners were sexual assaults. We are committed to reducing violence in prison and we encourage prisoners to report assaults, so that we can take action against perpetrators and support victims. The most important support that we can provide is to ensure that all allegations are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly, and that appropriate action is taken if they are proven.
The nature of any further support provided will depend on the circumstances of the case and the prisoner’s preferences, as well as an assessment of the risk of repeat victimisation. At its most straightforward this involves ensuring that further contact between person reporting the assault and the alleged perpetrator is prevented. Where this involves moving one or more prisoners between wings or prisons, it must not be to the reporter’s detriment. Ongoing support may include increased supervision of the reporter by prison staff, who may also work with them to build their sense of security and to restore their confidence. We expect our new key workers to play a growing role in work such as this. Finally, it may also include referral to other sources of help, such as peer supporters, healthcare staff, or more specialist support services from outside the prison.