Transgender prisoners with male genitalia will not serve time alongside female prisons without ministerial sign-off, the Justice Secretary Dominic Raab is expected to announce.
The policy will mean that ministers will have to approve any transfer of a male-bodied inmate to a women’s prison irrespective of whether they self-identify as a woman, while the Government will also have the power to order the removal of transgender prisoners from jails.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “While there have been no substantiated sexual assaults by transgender women in the female estate since 2019, the safety of all those in our care is a top priority.
“Having recently reviewed the arrangements in July, the Justice Secretary directed changes so that transgender prisoners with male genitalia are not housed with other biologically born women in the female prison estate, unless specifically signed off by a minister.
“Once confirmed by the new Government in September, it would be implemented as soon as possible.”
Policy change follows prison incident
The change in policy follows an incident last year involving a transgender prisoner serving time for murder at HMP Bronzefield in Surrey, The Mail on Sunday reported.
The prisoner, who has male genitalia, was reportedly caught having consensual sex with another inmate after consuming illegally-brewed alcohol.
Appropriately managing transgender individuals within the prison estate has become an increasingly high-profile issue in recent years, following a significant increase in the number of transgender prisoners.
Last November, The Telegraph reported that 197 prisoners serving sentences in England and Wales identified as transgender in 2021, a 21 per cent jump from 163 in 2019.
In a separate category are offenders who hold a gender recognition certificate (GRC), a document that legally recognises their change in gender.
Of the 197 prisoners who are living as the opposite gender in prison, but not legally recognised as such, the overwhelming majority were male-bodied individuals identifying as women, the figures show.
In 2016, when the data was first collected, 70 prisoners identified as transgender. This increased to 125 in 2017 and 139 in 2018. No data was collected in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Rishi Sunak backs new measure
If the Government does introduce the new measure, it could face legal challenges.
Last summer, the High Court ruled that it was lawful to house transgender women in the female prison estate.
A female prisoner brought a legal challenge against the MoJ for allowing inmates to serve their sentence in a prison that corresponds with their gender identity.
Lawyers representing the woman argued that placing transgender women with a history of sexual violence in female prisons put other inmates at risk of sex attacks.
But two High Court judges found that although it may appear “inappropriate and incongruous” for a transgender female prisoner possibly with a “masculine physique and male genitalia” to be incarcerated in a women’s prison, the Government had checks and balances in place to reduce any risks.
A source for Rishi Sunak’s campaign said he would implement the policy if he becomes prime minister. The source said: “Rishi agrees it is right to have even tougher rules around male-bodied prisoners entering women’s jails. Of course we have to treat transgender prisoners with respect, but we have a duty to protect biological women and Rishi would do that as prime minister.”