The Scottish Prison Service has suspended the movement of transgender women into all-women prisons, pending a review of inmate safety concerns.
The decision came from prison authorities amid controversy surrounding convicted transgender stalker, Tiffany Scott, entering an all-women’s prison facility. Scott had physically assaulted staff and inmates, according to the Daily Record, a Scottish newspaper.
An SPS spokesperson said the review will consider "any history of violence or sexual offending against women, and associated risk, with a view to determining the most appropriate location for the individual to be accommodated".
"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." they added.
The suspension comes as furious debate looms in the UK over the rights of people to self-identify as a transwoman.
The Scottish parliament, Holyrood, passed a Gender Recognition Bill in December last year, giving people the right to receive a gender recognition certificate; allowing people to legally change the sex on their birth certificate without a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The Bill also lowers the minimum age for application of the GRC from 18 to 16.
The Bill was blocked by the British government on January 17th, with the Scottish Secretary Alister Jack explaining that it conflicts with the operation of single-sex spaces under current UK-wide legislation.
Critics of the Bill have also pointed to cases like Isla Bryson. Bryson was convicted of raping two women but initially allowed to enter the women’s prison, albeit under segregation. She was moved into an all-male prison after a public outcry.
Joanna Cherry of the Scottish National Party, was asked in an interview with Times Radio: “So this is a man who committed a crime and should be in a male prison?” Cherry replied simply: “Yes”.
Others have voiced their support for trans rights in prisons but wanted a red line to be drawn with sex offenders in the new Gender Recognition Bill. Tom Harwood, a journalist, tweeted:
A spokesperson for the Scottish government said: “The placement of prisoners is an operational matter for the Scottish Prison Service who use comprehensive individualised risk assessments to inform decisions, such as the appropriate location of transgender people in custody.”
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