Prison gov­er­nors: Stop vi­o­lent male sex of­fend­ers who switch gen­der from trans­fer­ring to women’s jails

Fears for safety as ris­ing num­ber of trans women con­victed as men hope to fol­low rapist Martin Ponting into fe­male wings

The Mail on Sunday - - News - By David Rose

PRISON gov­er­nors warned last night that trans­fer­ring sex of­fend­ers who are born male but be­lieve they are fe­male into women’s jails could lead to vul­ner­a­ble in­mates be­ing at­tacked.

The jail chiefs spoke out fol­low­ing Theresa May’s pledge last year to make it sim­pler to change gen­der, and to ‘stream­line and demed­i­calise’ the process.

Trans­gen­der ac­tivists are de­mand­ing a change in the law so that any­one can do this sim­ply by an­nounc­ing they ‘self-iden­tify’ as a mem­ber of the op­po­site sex.

But one gover­nor, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said: ‘My fear is that this could make it much harder to con­trol the trans­fer of born-male, trans­gen­der pris­on­ers to women’s pris­ons.

‘ This could lead to vul­ner­a­ble women be­ing in­tim­i­dated – and even at­tacked.’

The warn­ing came as the Min­istry of Jus­tice con­firmed that dozens of ‘trans-iden­ti­fied male’ pris­on­ers are liv­ing as women in jails ex­clu­sively hous­ing con­victed sex of­fend­ers.

The fig­ures, which emerged in new Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act dis­clo­sures, show:

At least 34 male-born in­mates are liv­ing as women in four spe­cial­ist sex of­fender jails for men – Lit­tle­hey, Isle of Wight, What­ton and Stafford;

A fur­ther ten pris­on­ers may be housed at sex of­fender pris­ons Bure, Rye Hill and Ash­field;

Gov­er­nors of sex of­fender pris­ons say ‘all or most’ of their trans­gen­der in­mates are seek­ing to move to women’s jails;

In at least one prison, this group in­cludes a prisoner con­victed of mul­ti­ple, sep­a­rate rapes.

An­drea Al­butt, pres­i­dent of the Prison Gov­er­nors As­so­ci­a­tion, who has man­aged men’s and women’s jails, said: ‘I have seen women feel­ing very threat­ened by trans­gen­der pris­on­ers’ pres­ence.

‘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 – they look like men with long hair and make-up. They don’t look fem­i­nine, and if they are 6ft 2in they are very scary.

‘ At the same time, they could be ob­jects of ridicule to women. And if you are liv­ing as a woman be­fore the change, walk­ing around a land­ing in a men’s prison in a dress and make- up, t hat will be dif­fi­cult.’

The new fig­ures re­veal that in April last year there were 100 trans­gen­der in­mates in men’s pris­ons, and 25 in women’s.

It is known that some trans­gen­der women con­victed for sex crimes as men have al­ready been moved to women’s jails.

They in­clude Jes­sica Win­field, who as Martin Ponting was jailed for life in 1995 for rap­ing both an un­der­age girl and the dis­abled daugh­ter of a fam­ily friend. D David Davies, Con­ser­va­tive MP for Mon­mouth, said: ‘The Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion dis­clo­sures con­firm my worst fears.

‘ If self- iden­ti­fi­ca­tion hap­pens, there will be men who will use it to get into places where women de­serve se­cu­rity.

‘ I f some­one with a pe­nis is in­car­cer­ated, they should be in a man’s prison.’

Prison re­former Frances Crook said that she was wor­ried that ‘ some men with a his­tory of ex­treme vi­o­lence and sex­ual vi­o­lence against women have found a new way of ex­er­cis­ing ag­gres­sion to­wards women’.

Ms Crook, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Howard League for Pe­nal Re­form, added: ‘ These men are not tran­si­tion­ing be­cause they like women and want to be a woman, but in or­der to ex­ert a new kind of con­trol and dom­i­nance over women, a sort of in­fil­tra­tion.

‘More­over, the process is in­her­ently dis­crim­i­na­tory. A woman iden­ti­fy­ing as a man could not be trans­ferred to a man’s jail be­cause

‘Vul­ner­a­ble women could be at­tacked’

plac­ing a per­son with fe­male at­tributes into a prison to live with 1,000 men, all us­ing com­mu­nal show­ers and liv­ing areas, would put them in se­ri­ous dan­ger.’

The Min­istry of Jus­tice re­fuses to say how many of the 25 trans­gen­der pris­on­ers in women’s jails – al­most dou­ble pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates – were born men, and how many were women iden­ti­fy­ing as men.

Last night, it again re­fused to re­lease this in­for­ma­tion, claim­ing it does not hold this data – al­though there are trans­gen­der in­mates in just seven women’s pris­ons.

The min­istry has con­firmed there are no fe­male-born trans­gen­der in­mates in men’s jails.

It also re­fuses t o state how many of the pris­on­ers given trans­fers have gone through a full, sur­gi­cal tran­si­tion.

Re­search cited by trans­gen­der lobby groups sug­gests that just 20 per cent of male- born trans­sex­u­als get any med­i­cal treat­ment, of which only a small mi­nor­ity have male gen­i­tals re­moved.

An­other gover­nor said: ‘There are cases of men who i den­tify as women who it is ap­pro­pri­ate to hold in a women’s prison.

‘My con­cern is the trans­gen­der pris­on­ers who are ef­fec­tively in­tact men who are try­ing to trans­fer sim­ply to have ac­cess to women.’

At present, a trans­gen­der male­born prisoner can only move to a women’s jail if she has a Gen­der Recog­ni­tion Cer­tifi­cate, which re­quires a med­i­cal di­ag­no­sis of gen­der dys­pho­ria and at l east two years of liv­ing as a woman, or af­ter be­ing cer­ti­fied by a spe­cial prison ser­vice panel. How­ever, if the Prime Min­is­ter’s com­ment leads to le­gal self-iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, these pro­tec­tions will be much weaker.

Dr Ni­cola Wil­liams, of Fair Play for Women, who filed the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quests, added: ‘A change in the law could take away the abil­ity of pris­ons to make a judg­ment about whether a trans­fer is ap­pro­pri­ate.

‘ And the Min­istry of Jus­tice’s con­tin­u­ing re­fusal t o pro­vide ba­sic facts is out­ra­geous. How can we have the de­bate we need with­out them?’

Full de­tails of the FOI dis­clo­sures are on the group’s web­site.

A spokesman for the Min­istry of Jus­tice said: ‘We work to man­age t rans­gen­der pris­on­ers safely, sen­si­tively and in line with the law – but ro­bust safe­guards ex­ist to pre­vent abuse of this system.’

ANGER: In Fe­bru­ary, we re­vealed how trans­gen­der pris­on­ers en­joyed perks

WARN­INGS: An­drea Al­butt has been a gover­nor in male and fe­male pris­ons

CON­VICTED: Paul Ban­field sex­u­ally as­saulted a 17-year-old girl

GUILTY: Dav­ina Ayr­ton, right, jailed for eight years for rape com­mit­ted while liv­ing as a man. Above: A cell at Bronze­field jail

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.