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Offender Management

Volume 603: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2015

The management and care of transgender people in prison is a complex issue and one that the Government take very seriously. The National Offender Management Service is committed to incorporating equality and diversity into everything it does and treating offenders with decency and respect.

Currently, transgender adult prisoners are normally placed according to their legally recognised gender. However, we recognise that these situations are often complex and sensitive. That is why prisons exercise local discretion on the placement of those who live, or propose to live, in the gender other than the one assigned at birth. In such cases, senior prison management will review the individual circumstances, in consultation with medical and other experts.

However, we have received a number of representations expressing concern that the present system does not sufficiently address the needs of transgender prisoners.

As already announced, NOMS is undertaking a review of prison service instruction 7/2011 to ensure that it is fit for purpose and provides an appropriate balance between the needs of the individual and the responsibility to manage risk and safeguard the wellbeing of all prisoners.

The review will now be widened to consider what improvements we can make across prisons and probation services and across youth justice services.

The review will develop recommendations for revised guidelines which cover the future shape of prison and probation services for transgender prisoners and offenders in the community.

The review will be co-ordinated by a senior official from the Ministry of Justice who will engage with relevant stakeholders, including from the trans community, to ensure that we provide staff in prisons and probation with the best possible guidance. NOMS, the Youth Justice Board, the NHS and the Government Equalities Office will provide professional and operational expertise.

In addition, Peter Dawson and Dr Jay Stewart will act as independent advisers to this review. Peter Dawson is deputy director of the Prison Reform Trust and has served as deputy governor of HMP Brixton and governor of HMP Downview and HMP High Down. Dr Jay Stewart is a director of Gendered Intelligence, an organisation that aims to increase understandings of gender diversity.

A copy of the terms of reference will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The review will be expected to conclude its work early next year.