Prisoners allowed intimate visiting sessions at Maidstone prison

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The Independent Online
Prisoners are being allowed intimate sessions with loved ones in a jail visiting room in front of families and children, it emerged yesterday. Members of the board of visitors told independent inspectors they were disturbed at the level of "overt sexual behaviour" in the visiting room at Maidstone Prison in Kent, where staff were said in a report to be reluctant to interfere.

Inside the prison, cells were found to contain sexually explicit pictures - even in the wing containing convicted sex offenders. Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said the problems were typical of many jails: "There are insufficient staff to supervise visits and prisoners with desperate needs will resort to desperate measures to fulfil them," he said. The inspectors blamed budget cuts and low staffing levels for a series of potential problems in discipline, and called for immediate moves to enforce better standards of behaviour in the visiting room.