UK: concern over segregated transgender women prisoners

The segregation of a jail’s transgender women prisoners for “long periods” has been noted as a concern by a watchdog.

The Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) also had “serious concerns” about the lack of rehabilitation courses, and of women facing homelessness on release from HMP Eastwood Park.

It praised the jail near Gloucester for being “well run” and said prisoners were “treated with respect”.

The Prison Service said the jail “continues to be well run”.

“All transgender offenders are integrated into the main population and work is ongoing to make sure prisoners have every support upon release - part of the government’s annual £22m investment to help women into stable accommodation and reduce their chance of reoffending.”

IMB’s annual report said most prisoners were treated fairly but the cases of some transgender women caused inspectors the “most concern”.

It said there were “usually three to four transgender prisoners at any one time” at Eastwood Park. It said some were left segregated for more than six weeks while decisions were made about their future.

‘Inhumane treatment’

IMB chair Arthur Williams said: “Most transgender prisoners are well integrated into the prison community.

“However those who were considered to be a risk to others were segregated for periods in excess of 42 days, before being transferred elsewhere which the IMB considered to be inhumane treatment.”

Regarding concerns about rehabilition, the IMB said it had recently been informed there would be no funding in 2020-21 for “long-awaited new classrooms”, which would mean limited numbers of courses to help women rehabilitate.

It also said resettlement services were “inadequate although showing signs of improvement”, with “homelessness undermining progress” when the women were released.

The report said there was “still a lack of suitable accommodation in the community to support those released in maintaining a crime-free life”.

This issue was also highlighted by the Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke last year, when he said in his report that the prison was “setting women up to fail” by not helping them find housing.