It's not fair on men that women prisoners don't have to wear uniforms, Tory MP complains

Philip Davies said the uniforms would represent 'real equality'

Jon Stone
Thursday 02 July 2015 16:12 BST
Prisoners at HMP Pentonville walk through an atrium
Prisoners at HMP Pentonville walk through an atrium

It is not fair on men that women prisoners do not have to wear uniforms while they are incarcerated, a Conservative MP has said.

Philip Davies demanded that women prisoners be forced to wear uniforms to give men “real equality” with their woman counterparts.

“Female prisoners do not currently have to wear prison uniforms because it might affect their self-esteem. Research by the Ministry of Justice which was supposed to back this up was so deficient it was not even published,” he said.

“In the interests of real equality – not just the ‘equality but only when it suits agenda’ –will [the Government] get on with ensuring that both male and female prisoners have to wear prison uniforms?”

‘Orange Is the New Black’ is set in the US where uniforms are more common

Mr Davies made the intervention at a parliamentary question and answer session with ministers for women and equalities on Thursday morning.

Women have not been required to wear prison-issue clothing in British jails since 1971 because research found that inmates responded better to rules if they were allowed to wear their own clothes.

Men can also wear their own clothes under an earned privileges incentive scheme.

The rule is in contrast to the popular portrayal of women prisoners in US drama Orange Is The New Black, where prisoners wear uniforms.

Philip Davies, the MP for Shipley

Equalities minister Caroline Dinenage rejected Mr Davies’ call and said that since the penal system was largely designed with men in mind, the rule helped prisons become more effective.

“The experiences that lead to imprisonment and the impact of imprisonment can be very different for men and women,” she said.

“I am interested in equality whether it suits or not. The fact is that 95 per cent of prisoners are men and our entire prison system is largely designed with them in mind and to suit men.

“I make no apologies that our prisons should be places of rehabilitation as well as punishment and if this small compromise helps achieve that then it is well worth it.”

Ms Dineage’s stance won praise from the Labour benches, with Fiona Mactaggart praising the minister’s attempt to avoid a situation where “women prisoners are too often treated as though they are the ‘not men’ prisoners”.

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