New rules for transgender prisoners after controversial Fife cases

New rules will be introduced for transgender prisoners in Scotland after a backlash earlier this year against criminals born as men being placed in women’s jails.

Katie Dolatowski and Tiffany Scott’s cases were among a number which came under scrutiny, forcing the Scottish Government into a U-turn.

SNP bosses insisted at the time no transgender criminals with a history of violence would ever be transferred from a male to female prison.

What are the new rules?

Under new laws coming into force next February prison chiefs have said this will remain the case, while all other cases will be judged on an individual basis.

Non-violent transgender women will only be housed in all-female jails if prison bosses are confident they do not pose a threat to other inmates.

During the period where a decision is being made about an individual prisoner who identifies as a woman, they will continue to be housed in a men’s prison.

Fife controversies

Ms Dolatowski, who was born a boy called Lennon, was sent to Cornton Vale Prison, an all women’s jail near Stirling, after breaching a restriction of liberty order last year.

But earlier this year she was locked up in a male prison after repeatedly breaking a court order to stay indoors at night.

It came after activists protested against Ms Dolatowski being placed in Cornton Vale last November.

Meanwhile Tiffany Scott, from Kinglassie in Fife, who was previously called Andrew Burns, was due to be transferred from Low Moss Prison, near Glasgow, to a female-only jail earlier this year.

But they were barred from entering a woman’s prison following a backlash against the government’s previous policy.

The row erupted shortly after the SNP’s controversial attempt to introduce new laws allowing transgender people in Scotland to self-identify.

The gender reforms were initially passed in Holyrood by the Scottish Government, but were later blocked by Westminster.

SNP justice chief Angela Constance insisted the new rules would help protect the safety of transgender people while ensuring the safety of women from violent inmates.

Tory MSP Russell Findlay. Image: PA

But Scottish Tory MSP Russell Findlay, a vocal opponent of the SNP’s gender reforms, would be harmful to women.

He said: “These long overdue new guidelines actually put women at even greater risk by further eroding their fundamental right to single-sex space.

“They say that male prisoners with a history of violence against women or girls should be allowed in the female estate and will only be blocked if they present a risk, which is completely subjective.

“This is clearly unacceptable – and SNP ministers need to go back to the drawing board.”

Ms Constance said: “This updated policy protects the safety and welfare of staff, those in their care and the rights of transgender people.

“It makes clear that if a transgender woman meets the service’s violence against women and girls criteria they will be admitted and accommodated in the male estate.”

Teresa Medhurst, chief Executive of the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), said: “Every single individual in the care of SPS is treated with dignity and respect, with their rights upheld, and any risks carefully managed.

“Our staff have an excellent track record in working with our transgender population, and I know that will continue under this new policy.”

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