Scottish Prison Service halts movement of all transgender prisoners while rules are reviewed
The Scottish Prison Service has paused the movement of all transgender prisoners while it carries out an “urgent review”.
The move comes after Isla Bryson, a trans woman convicted of raping two women before changing gender, was remanded to a women’s prison.
She was later moved to a men’s prison after her case sparked a public outcry.
A Scottish Prison Service spokesperson said: “We have commenced an urgent review of all transgender cases currently managed in our establishments.
“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 paused the movement of all transgender individuals, until the review has been completed.”
Bryson was remanded at Cornton Vale following her conviction but it is understood she has since been transferred to HMP Edinburgh after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she would not serve her sentence at a women’s prison.
Scotland’s Justice Secretary said no transgender prisoner with a history of violence against women will be placed in the women’s prison estate.
Keith Brown said the rule will include those guilty of sexual violence towards women.
Mr Brown announced the measures on Sunday, after MSPs voiced anger at reports that prisoner Tiffany Scott’s request to move to the women’s estate had been rubber stamped.
He said the measures would be in place until the Scottish Prison Service completes a review of its management of trans prisoners.
Mr Brown 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.
“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 I am about to highlight will offer reassurance in the ongoing ability of the prison service to manage trans individuals and ensure the safety of all prisoners.
“We must also never forget that there are victims in these cases. My thoughts remain with them.”
He introduced two rules, the first being that no transgender person already in custody with any history of violence against women will be moved from the male to the female estate.
The second is that no newly convicted or remanded transgender prisoner with a history of violence towards women will be placed in the female estate.
Meanwhile, the Conservatives accused the government of flip-flopping on the issue and called for the review to be completed quickly.
MSP Russell Findlay said: “After much dithering and flip-flopping, the SNP government has finally been shamed into doing the right thing.
“Just days ago, the justice secretary tried to pass the buck, saying decisions on trans prisoners were for the Scottish Prison Service.
“But as public anger escalated, Nicola Sturgeon was forced to intervene by ordering the removal of a double rapist from a women’s prison.
“It should not have taken a second shocking case for them to ban all transfers.”