The long-awaited review was launched in November last year amid revelations that at least 12 trans prisoners had been accommodated in Scottish women’s jails in the previous 18 months.
Sue Brookes, the Scottish Prison Service’s (SPS) Director of Strategy and Stakeholder Engagement, said it was in the process of consulting with “various stakeholders within the community and those living and working across prison establishments”.
Invitations have also been extended to groups that campaign for women’s interests, after the SPS faced criticism for its failing to do so when the existing policy was drafted in 2014.
Brookes said: “Invitations have been extended to a range of community groups and stakeholders to engage with us, including groups who represent women in custody, and women’s interests.
“Meetings will take place between February and May.
“In addition, we are also engaging with prison staff who have experience of working with transgender people in custody. This includes female and male staff with experience of managing transgender people in custody and managing the policy, ranging from residential prison officers to governors in charge of establishments. This engagement is currently underway.”
The SPS is also set to consult with trans prisoners in the coming weeks and with the wider prison population through a bespoke survey.
Brookes said: “We plan to invite all women in custody and a proportionate number of men to complete the survey.”
Brookes did not confirm which women’s groups have agreed to take part, nor whether former prison chiefs such as former Cornton Vale governor Rhona Hotchkiss, who is opposed to housing trans prisoners in women’s jails, would be consulted.
Brookes said: “The SPS is looking to engage with community groups and organisations who represent a range of interests and identities. It is for those organisations to decide who should represent them in their discussions with us.”She said the net has been cast internationally in a bid to find ways of improving the transgender prisoner policy as part of the review, adding: “The SPS is reviewing the evidence that has emerged since the policy was developed in 2014, which includes learning from other jurisdictions.”A summary of evidence will be published alongside the refreshed policy later this year. We anticipate the engagement phase of work being completed by early summer. We will then conduct analysis of evidence and refresh the policy.”“We would anticipate the publication of the refreshed policy in late summer, although this is contingent on engagement and analysis work.”
Former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill recently called for a “separate secure” facility for trans inmates.