, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 155-176,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 Oct 2010

‘You May Kiss the Bride, But You May Not Open Your Mouth When You Do So’: Policies Concerning Sex, Marriage and Relationships in English Forensic Psychiatric Facilities


In 1996, the Royal College of Psychiatrists recommended that all psychiatric facilities in the UK develop policies concerning sexuality and sexual expression for persons contained in those facilities. This paper analyses the prevalence and content of such policies in English forensic psychiatric facilities. While the College recommends an individualised approach to sexual and emotional relationships, most hospitals in fact either prohibit or actively discourage such expression as a matter of policy. The paper considers the advantages and disadvantages of that approach. The paper also considers the legal issues surrounding these policies, and in particular the legal authority for governing the sexual and emotional expression of hospital residents and the relevant human rights implications.