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Government discusses transgender prisoners

View profile for Colin Rawson
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According to the recent data by the Ministry of Justice there are 85,977 male and 3,935 female prisoners in the UK. Currently, transgender prisoners are not recognised but it is estimated that there are around 80 transgender people incarcerated across the country.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called for reform of the law in relation to the allocation of transgender prisoners following the death of Vikki Thompson, 21, and Joanne Latham, 38. On 13 November 2015, Vikki Thompson was found dead at the men’s prison in Leeds. Two weeks later Joanne Latham was found hanged at the men’s prison in Woodhill, Milton Keynes.

Vikki and Joanne were identified as women but did not have gender recognition certificates. They were both placed into all male prisons based on their legal gender that was determined through their birth certificates (male). It is reported that Vikki Thompson had told friends that she would kill herself if she had to serve her sentence in a male prison.

Currently, prisoners should be housed based on their gender as stated on their birth certificate. If they have obtained their gender recognition certificate, they will be recognised as is stated on their new birth certificate with their gender changed.

The Ministry of Justice has stated that there are measures in place to review individual cases and recommendations can be made if a person’s emotional wellbeing is of concern when serving their sentence. Prisoner’s who are sufficiently advanced in the gender reassignment process, can serve their sentence in their acquired gender prison, even though their birth certificate does not reflect this.

The National Offender Management Service has said that a review into the care and management of transgender prisoners will be concluded early next year. It is also hoped that the government will be issuing new guidance on dealing with transgender prisoners before Christmas 2015.