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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Scottish Prison Service to carry out 'urgent review' of trans inmates

PA Media

The Scottish Prison Service has announced an “urgent review” of all transgender cases in its prisons.

It says it will pause the movement of all transgender inmates until the review is completed.

The move follows outcry about the case of Isla Bryson, a trans woman convicted of raping two women before changing gender.

She was initially remanded to Cornton Vale women’s prison before being moved to a male wing at HMP Edinburgh.

Justice Secretary Keith Brown said the “urgent lessons learned review” into the Bryson case will be completed by Friday.

The prison service was already undertaking a wider review of its transgender policy, which will continue.

Until that ends, Mr Brown said:

  • No transgender person already in custody with a history of violence against women will be moved from the male to female estate
  • No newly convicted or remanded transgender prisoner with any history of violence against women (including sexual offences) will be placed in the female estate.

Any exceptional cases will require the approval of Scottish ministers, he said.

“I understand that the issue of any trans woman being convicted of violent and sexual offences is a highly emotive subject and that the public concern is understandable,” Mr Brown said.

“As the first minister pointed out last week, we must not allow any suggestion to take root that trans women pose an inherent threat to women.

“Predatory men are the risk to women. However, as with any group in society, a small number of trans women will offend and be sent to prison.

“Therefore, I hope that the measures…. will offer reassurance in the ongoing ability of the prison service to manage trans individuals and ensure the safety of all prisoners.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesperson confirmed that the urgent review had begun.

“Our first concern is always, and remains, the health, safety, and wellbeing of all the people in our care, and that of our staff,” they said.

“We have very robust risk assessment processes, and a track record of keeping people safe, in often challenging circumstances.

“We have therefore paused the movement of all transgender individuals, until the review has been completed.”

They said the review would consider any history of violence or sexual offending against women, and any associated risk they pose.

The spokesperson added: “Until the review is completed, any trans individuals, with a history of violence towards women, will only be admitted to the male estate, in segregation, when they first enter our care.

“This arrangement will be progressed in line with our human rights obligations.

“Finally, our ongoing policy review will be independently assessed by experts in women affected by trauma and violence.”

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