Liverpool Law Review

, Volume 31, Issue 2, pp 155-176

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

‘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

  • Peter BartlettAffiliated withSchool of Law and Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham Email author 
  • , Nadia MantovaniAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, St George’s University of London
  • , Kelso CratsleyAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts
  • , Claire DillonAffiliated withBroadmoor Hospital
  • , Nigel EastmanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, St George’s University of London


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.


Emotional expression Forensic psychiatry Governance of psychiatric hospitals Psychiatric hospitals Sexual expression and human rights Sexuality