Prisons to get transgender wings by Andrew Gilligan in The Sunday Times 10.02.19

The original article is here.

The Prison Service is to stop many transgender inmates, including sex offenders, serving their sentences in women’s prisons.

The justice minister Ed Argar said the government was “revising” guidelines that said the “great majority” of trans prisoners should be allowed to “experience the system in the gender in which they identify”.

Options now under consideration include “clustering” trans prisoners in special wings or sections of wings. A number of high-risk trans inmates have already been moved back to men’s prisons, The Sunday Times can reveal.

Ministers acted after Karen White, a convicted sex offender who retains her male genitalia, was allowed into New Hall women’s prison near Wakefield, where she sexually assaulted two female prisoners.

The change has become more urgent after officials forecast that numbers of trans or non-binary prisoners in England and Wales could rise to 1,000, up from 139 last year. There are about 4,000 biological women in prison.

Argar said: “We take the Karen White case very seriously. New guidelines will be published shortly to ensure that [the policy] continues to strike the right balance between ensuring that all female prisoners are kept safe [and] that transgender prisoners have their rights respected.”

As a result of the White case, the justice ministry said, it had already “made the difficult decision to move a small number of transgender women back into the male estate”.

The change was seized on by campaigners against plans to allow people to “self-identify”. Nicola Williams, of Fair Play for Women, said: “It’s an admission that allowing males to self-identify as women and letting them into women’s spaces is dangerous.”