Prison guards to join ‘sensitivity’ classes so they don’t insult sex offenders

Prison guards in Britain have been ordered to attend ‘sensitivity’ classes – so they don’t accidentally insult sex offenders.

Inmates at HMP Ashfield in Gloucestershire, a prison for male sex offenders, have lodged a string of complaints about the language used by prison officers.

As a result, chiefs at the jail were told to set up classes to teach guards about trigger words which might be "considered offensive" by certain groups.

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In the past year, there have been double the number of Discrimination Incident Reporting Forms (DIRFs) submitted by lags – 38 in total, compared to 19 the year before.

Among the complaints include that staff were not sensitive over the words they used regarding a prisoners’ sexual identity, ethnicity, disability, mental health or religion.

The report by inspectors from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) stated in a note directly to the director of the Secro-run jail that issues raised at various ‘minority forums’ should be ‘thoroughly investigated’.

It adds in its note to the director: “Can the Director organise general awareness training for prison staff on cultural sensitivities?”

The report added that one issue raised at the forum included a lack of confidence in the DIRFs submitted by lags about "cultural and other" sensitivities.

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It states: “(There) was a lack of confidence in the discrimination incident reporting form (DIRF) system.

“In the period covered by this annual report, 38 DIRFs were submitted.

“This was double the number of previous years.”

Inspectors said they hadn’t found any ‘discrimination’ by staff, but that ‘banter’ – between lags and prison guards – sometimes wasn’t dealt with properly.

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The report stated that language used was sometimes ‘misinterpreted or trivialised by staff as mere "banter," and that language was "not always challenged rigorously enough".

It added: “A handful of staff were themselves disrespectful.”

The report went on to say that gypsy inmates suggested staff go on training courses to swot up on their ‘cultural knowledge’.

It added: “The Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community has also suggested on a few occasions that further staff training on cultural knowledge and understanding would be helpful.”

The IMB said that prison bosses were working on the recommendations and seeking out relevant training course for staff.


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