Seven sex attacks in women’s jails by transgender convicts The Times 30.12.20

The original article is here.

Transgender prisoners are five times more likely to carry out sex attacks on inmates at women’s jails than other prisoners are, official figures show.

Male prisoners who were transferred to women’s jails during gender reassignment and women inmates who are transitioning committed seven of the 124 sex attacks recorded between 2010 and 2018. They occurred at HMP Low Newton in Co Durham, Foston Hall in Derbyshire, Peterborough, Bronzefield in Middlesex and New Hall, West Yorkshire.

Karen White, a child abuser who dressed as a woman but was still legally a man, was jailed for life in 2018 for sexually assaulting two prisoners at HMP New Hall and the rape of a woman while he was outside jail.

Lord Keen of Elie, the Ministry of Justice spokesman in the Lords, told Labour’s Baroness McDonagh, in a written answer that there had been five attacks. The Ministry of Justice later updated the response to include White’s attacks.

The Ministry of Justice said: “Since 2010, out of the 124 sexual assaults that occurred in the female [prison] estate a total of seven were against females in custody perpetrated by transgender individuals.” It is not known what gender the attackers had been born.

Nicola Williams, director of the campaign group Fair Play For Women, told The Mail on Sunday: “These new figures are another warning about something everyone knows: Allowing males into female prisons is dangerous for women.” The group says that half of all known transgender prisoners have at least one previous conviction for sex offences. Male-born trans prisoners who have legally changed their gender have been automatically sent to women’s prisons since 2010. Those transitioning have been allowed to seek a transfer to women’s jails in England and Wales since 2016. Last year 14 prisoners sought to move to a prison of opposite gender, with seven men allowed to.

Women’s prisons had 34 transgender inmates in April 2019, 11 of whom identified as female. Prison Service statistics do not include those prisoners born male who have already legally changed sex.

Transgender inmates make up about one per cent of the 3,600 female jail population but are responsible for 5.6 per cent of sexual assaults in women’s prisons. A Prison Service spokesman said: “All sexual assaults in prison are referred to the police and we have safeguards in place to manage the risks posed by all those in custody.”

Decisions on whether transgender prisoners are allowed to move are considered by Complex Transgender Case Boards which are designed to ensure “checks and balances are in place to manage the risks both to the transgender prisoners themselves and others”.

A report by the Ministry of Justice in 2019 found that half of prisons in England and Wales said they had at least one transgender inmate, with a total of 163 prisoners presenting in a different gender to their birth. Of these, 130 said they identified as female.

The government last year allocated a separate block at Downview women’s prison near Sutton, Surrey, for male-born transgender prisoners. Inmates, reported to include sex offenders, slept and showered in the unit but could mix with woman inmates.

Rory Stewart, a former prisons minister, said last month that there had been “situations of male prisoners self-identifying as females then raping staff”, though Lord Keen said there were “no reported incidents” of female staff being raped by trans inmates.

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