Scotland says transgender prisoners with violent pasts will not go to women’s jails | Scotland
No transgender prisoner with a history of violence against women will be accommodated in a women’s prison, Scotland’s justice secretary has announced, as the country’s prison service announced an urgent review of all transgender prisoners.
It comes two days after Nicola Sturgeon said she did not favor a “blanket approach” to transgender prisoners, and amid mounting pressure on her government following reports that another violent transgender prisoner had been approved for transfer to the female prison estate.
In an unscheduled statement late Sunday afternoon, Justice Secretary Keith Brown announced a pause on the movement of all transgender inmates pending the outcome of an urgent review of the case of Isla Bryson, a transgender woman whose relocation to Scotland’s only all-female prison, Cornton Vale, last week immediately after he was found guilty of two counts of rape, sparked outrage.
Bryson was moved to a men’s prison on Thursday after an intervention by Sturgeon, who said she believed no rapist should be held in a women’s prison.
This means that no transgender person already in custody with any history of violence against women will be moved from the male to the female estate, nor will any newly convicted or detained transgender prisoner with a similar offending history in the female estate will not be placed.
It will include a halt to the transfer to a women’s prison of Tiffany Scott, first reported in the Daily Record on Saturday, who is subject to a life restriction order – reserved for Scotland’s most violent and dangerous offenders – after admitting that he sent a 13-year-old girl by sending letters from prison, an offense committed while she was living as a man. She has a history of assaulting female staff.
The announcement follows calls from across the political and campaigning spectrum to ban transgender women from all-female prisons or to create specialist wings for transgender offenders, who make up around 0.2% of the prison population.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown said: “I understand that the issue of any trans woman being convicted of violent and sexual offenses is a highly emotive subject and that the public concern is understandable.
“As the prime minister pointed out last week, we must not allow any suggestion to take root that trans women pose an inherent threat to women. Roof men are the risk for women. However, as with any group in society, a small number of trans women will offend and be jailed. Therefore, I hope that the measures I am going to highlight will provide reassurance in the continued ability of the prison service to manage trans individuals and ensure the safety of all prisoners.”
He added: “We must also never forget that there are victims in these cases. My thoughts remain with them.”
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Critics of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms – which prevented the UK government from going for royal assent due to “safety concerns for women and children” – argued the cases confirmed their concerns about the lack of safeguards in the bill.
But Brown said: “However, it is important to be clear that SPS [Scottish Prison Service] policy has not been changed or affected in any way by the recent passage of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill (which is not yet in force anyway).
A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: “Our first concern is always, and remains, the health, safety and wellbeing of all the people in our care, and that of our staff. We have very robust risk assessment processes and a track record of keeping people safe in often challenging circumstances. We have therefore suspended the movement of all transgender individuals until the review is complete.”
They added that the current policy review of the management of transgender prisoners, which is expected to be published in the coming months, will now be “independently assessed by experts in women affected by trauma and violence”.