One in 50 male prisoners identify as female
One in 50 male prisoners identify as female, compared with one in 200 in the general population
- Official prison watchdog says one in 50 male prisoners claims to be transgender
- They say this proportion rises to one in ten among inmates who are travellers
- The ratio may raise concerns that some offenders pretend to be transgender
One in 50 male prisoners claims to be transgender – four times the number in the population as a whole.
The proportion rises to one in ten among inmates who are travellers, while it is one in 100 for women, according to figures from the official prisons watchdog.
The high ratio may raise concerns that some offenders pretend to be transgender to gain extra privileges while inside. Inmates who identify as the opposite sex can choose whether they are kept in male or female jails and are allowed to shower alone.
A Surrey jail has set up a transgender wing over concerns that such inmates were vulnerable to bullying and suicide.
Figures suggest there are 1,500 transgender inmates in England and Wales – ten times more than government estimates (stock photo)
The figures, in the annual report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, suggest there are 1,500 transgender inmates in England and Wales – ten times more than government estimates.
Only six months ago, the Ministry of Justice said there were just 139 transgender prisoners.
Since last year, the HM Chief Inspector of Prisons has been asking inmates if they identify as neither male nor female as part of their routine surveys.
The questionnaire – given to offenders during inspections – states: ‘What is your gender?’ It then lists the options as ‘male’, ‘female’ and ‘non-binary’. There is no official data on the number of transgender people in the general population but estimates have put it at between 0.3 and 0.7 per cent.
The report said: ‘Most individuals received support, but some prisons were not aware of the full extent of the needs of these prisoners and had not yet identified and addressed them.’
The report showed 2 per cent of men and 10 per cent of travellers identified as transgender.The figure was much lower for female inmates at 1 per cent. The Ministry of Justice changed the rules in 2016 following the deaths of two transgender women who were being held at all-male prisons.
Previously, the guidelines had stated inmates had to be held in jails according to the gender given on their birth certificate.
The high ratio may raise concerns that some offenders pretend to be transgender to gain extra privileges while inside (stock photo)
But now prisoners can specify whether they want to go to an all men’s or all women’s prison, with a final decision made by a ‘transgender review board’.
Peter Clarke, Chief Inspector of Prisons, said he could not determine whether prisoners pretended to be transgender.
He added: ‘Sometimes we find that the numbers of people identifying as transgender are higher in our survey than the prison will think.’ Inspectors had seen ‘considerable care paid to the requirements of transgender prisoners’, he said.
In March, the UK’s first transgender wing opened at HMP Downview, a women’s prison in Sutton in Surrey.
It holds three transgender prisoners who all hold gender recognition certificates, meaning their gender transition is legally recognised.
At the time, the Ministry of Justice said the wings would not be rolled out across all prisons although it is currently carrying out a review into transgender inmates.
Transgender prisoner Jenny Swift killed herself at the male prison HMP Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in 2016 after complaining of being bullied by guards.
The previous year another transgender prisoner Vikki Thompson was found dead in a male prison cell in HMP Leeds after apparently committing suicide.
Mr Clarke – whose report was laid before Parliament yesterday – also criticised ministers for failing to get a grip on the drugs crisis in prisons.
He blamed a ‘corporate culture of defensiveness’ which had resulted in the Government being too slow to implement proper drugs detection methods.
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