Peers call for action to protect trans prisoners, after death of woman in all-male facility
The government has been urged to take “urgent steps” to protect the transgender prison population.
21-year-old Vicky Thompson was found dead inside male prison HMP Leeds earlier this month. It comes after the case of Tara Hudson – who was only moved from a male prison after a public pressure campaign. Neither of the women had been through the bureaucratic process to obtain Gender Recognition Certificates, but had been living as female for years.
Following the incident, Lib Dem peer Liz Barker raised the issue in the House of Lords this week.
Baroness Barker said: “Recent events have shown that placing trans women in male estates is dangerous.
“Does the Minister agree that trans prisoners should be housed in the estate of their acquired gender in the first instance and moved to another estate only following a thorough investigation that rules out all other safe alternatives?”
Lord Faulks, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, responded: “I offer my condolences to Vicky Thompson’s family and friends. Every death in custody is a tragedy and we are committed to reducing their numbers.
“While investigations are ongoing it is inappropriate for me to comment on the circumstances of Miss Thompson’s death.
“The policy on the care and management of prisoners who live or propose to live in a gender other than one assigned at birth is currently under review.”
Labour’s Lord Cashman added: “Mindful of the review of the current policy, what urgent steps will the Minister take to review the location of all trans people in prison and to move them to appropriate prisons according to their acquired gender, to avoid a repeat of the tragedy that befell Vicky Thompson?”
However, Lord Faulks said: “The important thing is that there is no generalisation here. It is important to assess each individual prisoner according to the stage they are at and their particular case.
“It might be a diagnosis or they may have fully realised their gender transformation.
“That individual assessment is carried out by the Prison Service, involving the assistance of psychological services and healthcare experts. It is after that assessment that they should be assigned an appropriate part of a prison.”
Prisons minister Andrew Selous faced similar questions in the Commons last week.
He said: “A review of the current policy began earlier this year, and revised policy guidance will be issued to reflect the NOMS responsibilities to transgender offenders in the community as well as in custody. The intention is to implement the guidance in due course.”