Keep Prisons Single Sex was established in 2020 to campaign for the sex-based rights of women in prison to single-sex accommodation and same-sex searching. We also campaign for data on offending to be recorded by sex throughout the criminal justice system.
AIMS & OBJECTIVES
Prison policy states that a male prisoner who identifies as transgender and who has a Gender Recognition Certificate must be allocated to the female estate. Conviction, offending history and anatomy are all irrelevant. A male who identifies as transgender, but who does not have a GRC, can apply to be transferred to a women’s prison.
We believe that this is wrong and that no male prisoner should ever be housed in a women’s prison. We believe that to house any male prisoner with women is a violation of the Article 3 rights of women in prison not be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The single-sex exceptions in Equality Act (2010) permit all individuals of the male sex to be excluded from single-sex spaces and services for females where this is a proportionate means to a legitimate aim. We believe that women’s prisons are a definitive example of a space that must be single-sex.
We believe that female offenders should only be searched by officers of the same sex. The current protocol on searching stipulates that both pat down searching and strip searching of women can only be carried out by women. However, the protocol is under review and the provisions may change to permit male officers who identify as transgender and who have a GRC to strip search women. We believe this would be wrong: allowing any male officer to strip search female offenders would be a gross violation of the rights of those women.
We believe that male offenders, no matter how they identify, should be risk assessed according to the provisions in place for their biological sex. However this doesn’t always happen. Where a male who has been convicted of sexual offences obtains a GRC, the risk assessment tool that is used for adult men convicted of sexual offences can no longer be used. This is because this risk assessment tool is not for use with women. We believe that this is misguided and unacceptable.
We believe in the importance of data that is disaggregated by sex. This is important for data analysis and for service planning and development. We believe that when a male is arrested, commits a crime or is imprisoned, biological sex should be recorded. However, this doesn’t always happen. Some arrests and convictions of males are recorded in the female data where the male in question has a GRC, or even on the basis of self-reported gender identity. This also happens in prison in respect of incident reporting. This means that male crime is hidden in the female data.
Male prisoners may also be vulnerable and at risk of assault in the male estate. Vulnerable men may include: BAME males, old males, young males, disabled males, gay males. All these male prisoners, as well as those who identify as transgender, have the right to be safe in prison. We believe that the solution must be found within the male estate. Housing them in women’s prisons should never be an option.
WHAT WE DO
- Our campaign work includes work in parliament, in policy and in the media.
- Our work in parliament is an important part of what we do. As a result of our campaign work and the efforts of our supporters, we have a growing number of MPs and Peers across the political spectrum who are now willing to stand up and speak out in support of the sex-based rights of women in prison. Through our work in Scotland we have made similar inroads into Scottish Parliament and an increasing number of MSPs are now asking questions of the Scottish Prison Service.
- Through our consultation submissions we ensure that the needs and rights of women in prison are brought to the attention of Parliamentary Select Committees and other organisations and statutory bodies.
- We have been consulted on prisons policy in relation to the impact of proposed policy on sex-based rights of women in prison.
- We are called upon with increasing frequency by the media for input on the sex-based rights of women in prison including the Daily Telegraph, the Times, Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, The Economist, the Guardian, LBC and GB News.
- Our Freedom of Information Access requests have proved invaluable. It was as a direct result of our work in this area that we discovered that Ministry of Justice policies were under review.
- We are called upon by other campaign groups, working both in the areas of prison reform and women’s rights, to provide specialist input.