Shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay and Justice Secretary Keith Brown clashed over review of SNP policy on transgender criminals in wake of the Isla Bryson scandal.
By Bill Heaney
The Scottish Conservatives are demanding a parliamentary statement from the First Minister on the safety of female prisoners to clarify Scottish Government policy in the wake of “chaos, confusion and U-turns” by SNP ministers.
Shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay also confirmed his party would put forward an amendment to the SNP’s Bail and Release from Custody Bill to introduce a legal ban on violent transgender criminals being housed in women’s prisons.
The move would make permanent the temporary halt on trans prisoners with a history of violence against women being housed in female jails, which Keith Brown announced on Sunday.
The justice secretary’s latest U-turn came after growing public and media outcry over the cases of a double rapist – now identifying as a female, Isla Bryson – who was initially sent to a women’s jail and another violent trans criminal – Tiffany Scott – who had been approved for transfer to a female jail.
Russell Findlay – who has submitted a Topical Question on this issue to the Presiding Officer – also urged the SNP to take evidence from the United Nations expert on torture, Alice Edwards, who tweeted about her concerns over the safety of women prisoners in Scotland.
Russell Findlay said: “After days of SNP chaos, confusion and U-turns, Nicola Sturgeon must come to parliament as a matter of urgency. She needs to explain her government’s shambolic mess and make clear how the safety of female prisoners can be guaranteed.
“We need full transparency because the only thing clear at the moment is that the justice secretary is in complete disarray. Keith Brown was only shamed into this dramatic U-turn after a sustained public outcry over two highly dangerous criminals.
“But a ‘pause’ on criminals with a history of violence against women being housed in female prisons does not go far enough. We need a permanent ban to safeguard vulnerable female inmates.
“The Scottish Conservatives will seek to amend the SNP’s Bail and Release from Custody Bill, which is due to come before parliament in March, in order to make this temporary ban permanent.
“The last few days have exposed Nicola Sturgeon as being completely out of touch with public opinion. Putting the rights of highly dangerous criminals ahead of those of vulnerable women is utterly perverse.
“I have also submitted a Topical Question seeking answers from the Scottish Government about the review of Scottish Prison Service policy on transgender criminals in the wake of the Isla Bryson scandal.
“I would also urge the SNP to take evidence from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture who shares widespread public concerns over the safety of women prisoners.”
The Topical Question submitted by Russell Findlay to the PO reads: TATSG for an update of its proposed review in relation to the transfer of a convicted double rapist to a women’s prison.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Edwards voiced her concerns about the safety of women prisoners in this tweet: https://twitter.com/DrAliceJEdwards/status/1619579182245347330?s=20&t=5jIt6dJFgqllIxD4L1S-Zw
Top of page: Nicola Sturgeon pictured with MPs Martin Docherty-Hughes and Brendan O’Hara.
The matter is sub judice, it is for the SPS to determine, too early for me to say, there is an investigation underway, I don’t know the answer to that, I wasn’t there, that’s for other to decide, far be it for me to judge.
Perm any two from three and you’ve got the bones of a typical Nicola Sturgeon response.
But people now know what this failed solicitor is truly about and politically she is now dead woman walking.