Ministry of Justice
Update on changes to transgender prisoner policy framework
Further information on the changes we are making to our transgender prisoner policy framework.
On October 4 2022 the Justice Secretary announced plans to reform our policy on the allocation of transgender prisoners. Under the reforms, transgender women with male genitalia, or those who have been convicted of a sexual offence, should no longer be held in the general women’s estate.
This will create a strong presumption, but allow for exemptions to be considered by Ministers on a case-by-case basis – though only the most truly exceptional cases will be considered.
We will be publishing an updated policy framework shortly, which will set out the new guidance in detail and how it will be implemented by the Prison Service. The implementation of this new policy will take effect soon after we have published the revised framework.
The safety of all prisoners is paramount. These changes will ensure a sensitive and common-sense approach to meeting the needs of women in custody, while we continue to ensure that transgender prisoners are appropriately supported in whichever estate they are located in.
Question: Where are transgender prisoners currently placed?
The placement of transgender prisoners is subject to a thorough risk-assessment in every case. More than 90% of transgender women in prison are housed in men’s prisons, and most do not request a move to a women’s prison. There is no obligation to move transgender prisoners according to their wishes.
Transgender women without a Gender Recognition Certificate – i.e. who are not legally female – are initially sent to a male prison as a matter of course.
Question: What will happen as a result of these new changes?
As a result of the new policy, transgender women who are in future sentenced to custody and
- have male genitalia
- who have been convicted of sexual offences
will not serve their sentences in the general women’s estate unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Question: Does that mean transgender women currently in the women’s estate will be moved into male prisons?
In relation to transgender women currently in the women’s estate, there will be a thorough assessment of individuals – both the risks to them and any risks they pose to others – before any move is considered. Transgender women who cannot be held safely in either the male or female estate can be held in a specialist unit.
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