Inside Scottish women's jail where transgender prisoners are kept
25th January 2023

Inside ‘care suite’ at Scottish women’s jail where transgender prisoners are kept with pregnant, vulnerable and mentally ill inmates and shower facilities are communal

  • Transgender rapist Isla Bryson is at the all-female Cornton Vale jail in Stirling
  • Trans women are often held with pregnant and mentally ill women in ‘care suite’
  • Report raised concerns about ‘issues of privacy and dignity for women’ there
  • In 2019 transgender prisoner Paris Green was moved after sex with women 

Transgender rapist Isla Bryson could be in the ‘care suite’ of a Scottish women’s jail where inmates share communal spaces including showers – and some vulnerable prisoners are so mentally ill they refuse to wear clothes, MailOnline can reveal today.

Bryson, 31, who until 2020 was called Adam Graham, was yesterday found guilty of raping one woman in Clydebank in 2016 and another in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019.

MailOnline can reveal that Bryson is likely to be held in Ross House at the all-female Cornton Vale jail in Stirling where inspectors say trans prisoners are placed with pregnant women and other vulnerable people.

A recent review of care there raised concerns about ‘issues of privacy and dignity for the women’ in a unit where toilets are in cells but ‘showering facilities are communal’. The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland said they learned of ‘women neglecting their personal hygiene or refusing to wear clothing’.

Critics have said that Bryson should be in a male prison to protect female prisoners.

In 2019 transgender prisoner Paris Green, who was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years in prison for murder, began her sentence at Cornton Vale but was moved after reports the killer, who murdered while named Peter Laing, had sex with female prisoners in the cells.

Ross House at Cornton Vale women’s prison where transgender inmates are usually housed here with pregnant and other vulnerable inmates 

The cells at the all women’s jails are not shared – but in 2019 one trans inmate was moved to HMP Edinburgh after reports they were having sex with women 

Isla Bryson, 31, (right), who was born Adam Graham (left), was convicted of raping two woman while a man yesterday

Amid fears Bryson is also threat to women, at Ross Hall prisoners enjoy shared access to a communal kitchen, gym and to a large outdoor exercise area as well as access to an art therapist who visits twice a week and a walking club, according to the 2021 report.

Murderer Paris Green was moved from Cornton Vale women’s jail amid reports the killer was having sex with female prisoners

Inspectors found: ‘The care suite comprises fourteen single occupancy rooms on the ground floor and accommodates women who are more vulnerable. 

‘Women who are pregnant, transgender women or occasionally young persons may be cared for here. 

‘Most women housed in the care suite however are there due to mental illness or distress. Each room has a sink and a toilet. Showering facilities are communal’.

Downing Street has expressed ‘concerns’ about the possibility transgender women Isla Bryson, who was convicted of raping two women, could be held in a women’s prison.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘This is a case in which the courts are yet to hand down a sentence so I’m not going to give anything on the specifics. I’ve seen the reporting and understand the concerns.’

Asked about the general policy, he said: ‘The UK has a policy which sees the prison service in England and Wales manage transgender prisoners on a case-by-case basis and transgender women must go through a robust risk assessment which factor in their offending history and anatomy before they can be moved to a women’s prison.’

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) said it decides where to send transgender prisoners ‘on an individualised basis, informed by a multi-disciplinary assessment of both risk and need’.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland raised concerns about ‘issues of privacy and dignity for the women’ there

Cornton Vale (pictured) is Scotland’s only all female prison, other jails have female wings

SNP MP Joanna Cherry said she is ‘very concerned about the safety of women prisoners, with whom a convicted rapist has been placed’, while other politicians have also voiced concerns.

It comes after the UK Government blocked controversial gender reform legislation in Scotland which would speed up and simplify the process for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC).

Ms Cherry said that Bryson should be held in a men’s prison.

She told Times Radio: ‘To many people, it will look like this convicted rapist has gamed the system in order to try and garner sympathy, and to end up in a women’s prison. And I think a lot of people will be shocked by that.

Katie Dolatowski – a transgender paedophile born a man who managed to stay at Leeds Women’s Aid refuge for 71 days is also held at Cornton Vale women’s jail

‘So I think we should be talking about these cases. And women in prison are very vulnerable. Many women in prison have themselves been abused, and have suffered injuries over the years. And so they’re particularly vulnerable. And perhaps some people would say nobody really cares about prisoners.

‘But the point about human rights is that they’re universal, and they apply to everyone. So I’m very concerned about the safety of women prisoners, with whom a convicted rapist has been placed.

‘And under Scots law, the crime of rape can only be committed by somebody with a penis, and that’s a man. And I think we should call, I think we should call out what’s happened here.’

Interviewer Stig Abell asked: ‘So, this is a man who’s committed a crime and should be in a male prison?’

To which Ms Cherry replied: ‘Yes.’

The court heard in agreed evidence that Bryson now identifies as a transgender woman and was previously known by the ‘dead name’ Adam Graham.

Giving evidence last week, the rapist admitted currently taking hormones and seeking surgery to complete gender reassignment.

Bryson, who denied the charges against her, told the court ‘I’ve got my top half,’ referring to breasts.

Others have also voiced concerns including former Labour MSP Jenny Marra who on Tuesday tweeted: ‘Cannot quite believe that the Scottish justice system has just put a violent man convicted today of raping two women in women’s prison Cornton Vale housing some of the most vulnerable women in our country.

‘Ministers need to explain why and take responsibility.’

Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay said: ‘We now have the utterly perverse situation where a Scottish court refers to someone who says he identifies as female using ‘her penis’ to rape two vulnerable women.

‘We warned of the inevitability of this happening if the SNP’s gender self-ID law passed, but for it already to have become reality is deeply worrying and an affront to the victims.’

An SPS spokeswoman said: ‘Decisions by the SPS as to the most appropriate location to accommodate transgender people are made on an individualised basis, informed by a multi-disciplinary assessment of both risk and need.

‘Such decisions seek to protect both the wellbeing and rights of the individual as well as the welfare and rights of others around them, including staff, in order to achieve an outcome that balances risks and promotes the safety of all.

‘Where there are any concerns about any risks posed by an individual, either to themselves or others, we retain the ability to keep them separate from the mainstream population until an agreed management plan is in place.’

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Decisions taken by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) on the placement of transgender prisoners are based on protecting both the wellbeing and rights of the individual and those around them, including staff.

‘The SPS use comprehensive individualised risk assessments to inform decisions, such as the appropriate location of transgender people in custody, and not the basis of a Gender Recognition Certificate.

‘The Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill does not change this process in any way.’

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