Trans pris­oner’s ‘three sex at­tacks on fe­male in­mates’

Daily Mail - - Comment - By James Tozer

A TRANS­GEN­DER pris- oner al­legedly sex­u­ally as­saulted three fe­male in­mates at a women’s jail af­ter be­ing sent there de­spite not hav­ing had gen­der re­as­sign­ment surgery.

The al­leged at­tacker was re­port­edly sent to New Hall Prison for women, near Wake­field, West York­shire, on re­mand af­ter liv­ing as a woman for two years, only to al­legedly prey on fe­male in­mates.

De­tails of the ac­cu­sa­tions will fuel de­bate over whether the ris­ing num­ber of trans­gen­der pris­on­ers born male that are placed in women’s jails is putting in­mates at risk.

The num­ber of trans­gen­der in­mates held in men’s and women’s prisons al­most dou­bled in just 12 months. Prison gover­nors warned last month that ‘vul­ner­a­ble’ fe­male in­mates could feel threat­ened by be­ing locked up along­side trans­gen­der in­mates who have not had surgery.

The al­leged at­tacks in­volv­ing the trans­gen­der pris­oner on the fe­male in­mates were said to have taken place be­tween Septem­ber and Novem­ber last year and be­gan within days of the in­mate ar­riv­ing on re­mand.

The pris­oner was seen vis­i­bly aroused dur­ing an al­leged sex­ual as­sault on a fel­low in­mate she had be­come friends with at the high se­cu­rity com­plex, The Sun re­ported.

She also al­legedly made in­ap­pro­pri­ate com­ments about a sex act to another pris­oner, while a third re­port­edly claimed she was kissed on the neck. The trans­gen­der pris­oner is now said to have been sent to a Cat­e­gory B men’s jail.

Lat­est fig­ures show there were 125 trans­gen­der pris­on­ers in Eng­land and Wales up to the end of March 2017, an in­crease from 70 a year ear­lier.

Around 25 are thought to be in women’s jails but no of­fi­cial fig­ures have been re­leased.

Four trans­gen­der in­mates are known to have died in cus­tody, un­der­lin­ing how they too are of­ten par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble. At least 34 male-born in­mates are liv­ing as women in four spe­cial­ist sex of­fender jails for men ac­cord­ing to dis­clo­sures last month un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act.

But prison gover­nors say many have sought to be trans­ferred to women’s jails.

Here they are al­lowed spe­cial priv­i­leges in­clud­ing greater free­dom in how they dress, ac­cess to make-up and wigs, and the right to shower and wash their clothes in pri­vate.

In re­sponse to fears about un­wit­tingly pro­vid­ing in­cen­tives for the sys­tem to be abused, prison staff have been warned to watch out for male pris­on­ers falsely claim­ing to be trans­gen­der so they can be sent to women’s jails.

Frances Crook, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Howard League for Pe­nal Re­form, last month ex­pressed fears that some male sex of­fend­ers were tran­si­tion­ing into women ‘in or­der to ex­ert a new kind of con­trol and of dom­i­nance’.

Among trans­gen­der women con­victed for sex crimes as men who have al­ready been moved to women’s jails is Jes­sica Win­field, who as Martin Ponting was jailed for life in 1995 for rap­ing both an un­der­age girl and also the dis­abled daugh­ter of a fam­ily friend.

Last month An­drea Al­butt, pres­i­dent of the Prison Gover­nors As­so­ci­a­tion, told the Mail on Sun­day: ‘I have seen women feel­ing very threat­ened by the pres­ence of trans­gen­der pris­on­ers.

‘Women pris­on­ers are very vul­ner­a­ble. A lot have abu­sive men in their lives, who are part of the rea­son they have ended up in prison.

‘To put all men who de­clare they are women into women’s prisons would be very dam­ag­ing. You do get trans pris­on­ers who are go­ing through the [tran­si­tion] process who still look very mas­cu­line.’

Cur­rently, trans­gen­der women can only le­gally change their gen­der on their birth cer­tifi­cate if they have been med­i­cally di­ag­nosed with gen­der dys­pho­ria and have lived as a woman for two years.

Judges de­cid­ing whether to send trans­gen­der pris­on­ers to male or fe­male prisons of­ten use this as a de­cid­ing fac­tor.

West York­shire Po­lice said Karen White, 51, has been charged with three counts of sex­ual touch­ing fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into four al­leged in­ci­dents at the jail.

She will ap­pear in court in Leeds next month.

Last night the Prison Ser­vice said it would be ‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment on spec­u­la­tion about an in­di­vid­ual case while le­gal pro­ceed­ings are on­go­ing’. But a spokesman said: ‘There are strict safe­guards to pre­vent abuse of the way we man­age trans­gen­der pris­on­ers.’

‘Women pris­on­ers are vul­ner­a­ble’

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