Female prisoner takes government to court after alleged assault by transgender inmate The Sunday Times 03.11.19

The original article is here.

A female prisoner who was allegedly sexually assaulted in jail by a male-bodied transgender inmate has launched a High Court action for a judicial review of government policy.

She says the transgender woman, who is serving a sentence for rape of a female, groped her breasts in the prison toilets. Shortly after the assault, the victim was moved to a different prison only to find her assailant had also moved there and would be sharing accommodation.

She is challenging the lawfulness of the government decision to place trans-women prisoners convicted of sexual and violent offences against women in women’s prisons without, it is claimed, adequately protecting female prisoners.

Her application, lodged in the High Court by Birnberg Peirce, a civil rights law firm, on October 21, also challenges government policy on a unit for transgender women at HMP Downview, a women’s jail in Surrey.

The unit, E Wing, is intended to accommodate transgender women who present an unmanageable risk, but the claim states that they come into contact with women in the gym and during courses on education, religious study, faith awareness and substance misuse as well as in employment.

The claim says the government’s national policy, implemented from October 31, states that “transgender women prisoners with gender recognition certificates must be treated in the same way as biological women for all purposes”. It rules they must be placed in the women’s estate unless there are exceptional circumstances.

But according to the claim, “there has been at least one other high-profile case of a convicted sex offender being moved into the female prison estate on the basis of their gender self-identification, and that prisoner having gone on to sexually assault female prisoners.”

Dr Nicola Williams, director of Fair Play for Women, a group that has campaigned to highlight the risks to women, said: “We very much welcome this application to the court to grant a judicial review.”

One in 50 inmates in adult male prisons claims to be transgender or transsexual, according to HM Chief Inspector of Prisons.

@NicholasHellen