This question relates to the previous question, as well. Since the 2019 strengthening of our policy, there have been no assaults or sexual assaults committed by transgender women in women’s prisons, and last year we further strengthened that policy.
I welcome the fact that the Government are issuing new guidance on the accommodation of such prisoners, but does my right hon. Friend agree that having no biological male imprisoned in a woman’s prison should be a strong principle henceforth? Does he agree that women’s prisons and the women within them must not be used as therapeutic support for trans-identifying male prisoners?
I am happy to confirm to my hon. Friend, as I said a moment ago, that safety must come first. We want to support everybody who is in our care and who we are keeping inside for the protection of the public. We need to make sure that safety in prisons is as strong as it can be, and I can confirm to my hon. Friend that following the policy updates, transgender women with male genitalia will not be held in the general women’s estate except in truly exceptional circumstances. Exemptions will require sign-off by a Minister to ensure they can be considered only in the most truly exceptional cases.
For those who identify as transgender, it is important to recognise, as the Minister has, the safety issues. Across this great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, it is important that we have a policy and a strategy that is the same everywhere. Has the Minister had any opportunity to talk to the police and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland to ensure that we in Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Assembly have a policy that follows the route and focus here?
The short answer is that I have not had a chance to have that conversation. It is true that there are differences in different parts of the United Kingdom, and those have been played out in the media substantially over the past couple of weeks. I believe our policy here in England and Wales is the right one. It is respectful to everybody, but makes sure we are making safety paramount.