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