Prison service 'right to move trans rapist', LGBTI charity says

The Equality Network said anyone who poses a risk to women 'should not be housed with women on the female estate'.

Prison service generated right result in case of trans rapist Isla Bryson, says Scotland’s Equality Network Spindrift

A leading Scottish LGBTI charity has said the country’s prison service “generated the result it should” in the case of rapist Isla Bryson.

But The Equality Network warned “a blanket rule” on where to locate trans people in custody would be wrong.

The charity, which campaigns for equality and human rights for LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people, said its view was that “anyone who has committed sexually violent crimes, and who poses a risk to women, should not be housed with women on the female estate”.

The comments were made on Friday following the conviction of transgender woman Bryson, previously known as Adam Graham, who was found guilty of raping two women following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Bryson was being held at Cornton Vale women’s prison, near Stirling, awaiting sentencing for the crimes committed while a man.

The decision to hold her in an all-female jail faced widespread criticism from opposition politicians and a former prison governor.

Nicola Sturgeon later confirmed that the rapist would not be incarcerated there and would instead be moved to the male prison estate.

The case sparked national debate about the safety of women from sex offenders in prison.

In a statement released on Friday, The Equality Network said: “As far as we can tell, the Scottish Prison Service’s policy has generated the result it should, and that we would have expected. As we understand it, Isla Bryson was held in segregation while a risk assessment was done.

“That risk assessment decided, not surprisingly, that she should not be held in the women’s estate. That is what we would expect for a person convicted of rape.

“It is our view that anyone who has committed sexually violent crimes, and who poses a risk to women, should not be housed with women on the female estate.”

The charity continued by stating that, in September 2022, there were 15 trans people in custody in Scotland, accounting for 0.2% of the prison population.

Following risk assessments of the individuals, nine were held in the estate which matched their gender assigned at birth and six were matched in the estate matching their transitioned gender.

The charity said: “It is right that this should be decided on an individualised risk assessment basis.

“For example, a trans woman transitioned for 20 years, who is in prison for a non-violent offence like financial fraud, might pose no risk to other women in custody, but be at significant risk herself if accommodated on the male estate.

“A blanket rule about where trans people in custody are accommodated would be wrong.”

The statement continued by stating that such risk assessment policies apply to all trans people in custody with or without Gender Recognition Certificates (GRC).

The changes to the process for applying for a GRC, overwhelmingly agreed by the Scottish Parliament in December, currently blocked by the UK Government “would have no effect” on where trans people in custody are housed, the charity said.

“In a community of any size, there will be some people who commit appalling crimes – that does not and should not reflect on the majority of that community,” the statemend said.

JK Rowling, who has been a prominent opponent of reforms to make it easier to change gender, criticised Nicola Sturgeon over the Bryson case.

The Harry Potter author tweeted: “Never forget, Sturgeon, her government and supporters have insisted that it is ludicrous to imagine anyone would dress in women’s clothes to get access to vulnerable women and girls. Wouldn’t happen. Everyone is who they say they are. To question this is hate.”

The writer referenced the case of paedophile Katie Dolatowski, which prompted protesters to rally outside Cornton Vale prison in December, where she was being held.

Dolatowski, a trans woman, is imprisoned on a number of charges including the sexual assault of a ten-year-old girl in a supermarket toilets in Kirkcaldy.

On Thursday, STV News exclusively revealed double rapist Bryson enrolled on a beauty course at a college after being charged with the sex attacks.

Bryson attended classes at Ayrshire College’s Kilwinning Campus in 2021, while awaiting trial.

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