All cases should be reviewed to protect the safety rights of female inmates
By Democrat reporter
SNP MSP Ash Regan has told the Scottish Daily Express that no trans women should be present in the women’s prison estate and any new policy should protect the rights of women.
The former Minister was forced to resign from her post after she refused to vote in line with her party on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, citing its devastating impact on the rights of women and girls.
Gender controversy has since turned to the plight of women in prisons who are forced to share facilities like shower units with male-bodied convicts sometimes guilty of violent crimes.
Isla Bryson, the double rapist initially held at Cornton Vale was deemed to be too dangerous for women despite self-identifying as the opposite sex. He was moved to a men’s prison but another trans inmate, deemed extremely dangerous is likely to be approved for women’s housing.
The policy that allows someone to be housed in a prison that aligns with their preferred gender is subject to ongoing review, however, it’s not guaranteed a rapist will be kept from women or those violent offenders that pose a threat to biological women, will be separated.
Asked whether trans prisoners should get , Ms Regan told the Scottish Express: “I think what we can see from what’s happened over the last few weeks is that this sort of individualised risk assessment process working under the current policy is not working in the way that the public would expect it to.
“We had a convicted rapist this week and we’ve got Tiffany Scott, formerly Andrew Burns, being approved to move into the women’s prisoner estate and this is a prisoner that’s subject to a lifelong restriction order and considered an unmanageable risk to public safety.
“I think at this point, what we need to do is stop all transfers under the system. I think we’re going to have to then review any allocations that have been made under this policy to make sure those prisoners are in the right place in the present state, and then bring forward a new policy.”
The devastating experience of Amanda Benson revealed the daily fear of rape and attack she and other women experienced while in prison with transgender women.
Asked if there should be any middle ground when it comes to housing trans women with vulnerable female inmates, the SNP rebel said: “We shouldn’t be having male prisoners in the women’s prison estate.”
She added: “Elizabeth Fry campaigned successfully for a change 200 years ago, for very good reasons. We all understand the reasons why we have single-sex spaces. And I think it’s perfectly achievable to get to a policy where everybody’s rights are respected, but it’s also lawful.”
UN Rapporteurs have been quick to offer their stance on Scotland’s gender policy, with the latest intervention from the UN spokeswoman on torture who is in agreement with Ms Regan that sex offenders should not be locked up with potential victims and women have a right to be protected.
Alice J Edwards said: “Female prisoners have a right to be protected from violent sex offenders no matter how they identify. Where is the common sense? Clearer guidelines are needed.”
Nicola Sturgeon has failed to say whether there will be a blanket ban on rapists in women’s prisons while the Scottish Prison Service maintains that: “Decisions by the SPS as to the most appropriate location to accommodate transgender people are made on an individualised basis, informed by a multi-disciplinary assessment of both risk and need.”