Nicola Sturgeon: No apology over transgender prisoner row – BBC

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Nicola Sturgeon said ministers were dealing with "difficult issues" in an "appropriate" way
Nicola Sturgeon has said her government has nothing to apologise for in its handling of the recent transgender prisoner controversy.
On Sunday, a "pause" was placed on the transfer to women's jails of trans inmates with a history of violence.
Asked if she would apologise, the first minister said: "I don't think there is anything for that."
She said ministers were dealing with "difficult issues" in an "appropriate" way.
Opposition parties say the government's handling of the row has been "botched", and characterised by "chaos, confusion and U-turns".
The controversy began last week when Isla Bryson, who now identifies as a woman, was convicted of two rapes committed prior to her gender change.
Pending sentence, Bryson was initially remanded to Cornton Vale women's prison, near Stirling – prompting an outcry – before she was transferred to HMP Edinburgh.
At the weekend it was reported that another transgender woman, Tiffany Scott – who was convicted of stalking a 13-year-old girl before her transition and has a history of violence – was due to be moved to the female prison estate.
Justice Secretary Keith Brown then announced a "pause" on the transfer of transgender prisoners, with a history of violence against women, to women's prisons. An urgent review is now taking place into the Bryson case and there is an ongoing review by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).
In a BBC interview Ms Sturgeon stressed there were very few transgender prisoners in Scotland, representing only about 0.2% of the overall prison population, and that she had confidence in how the SPS was managing them.
She insisted the new guidance was not about overriding the prison service's decision-making, but rather an attempt to bring "absolute clarity" amid public concern.
Ms Sturgeon explained: "The government is dealing with this in an appropriate way.
"These are difficult issues – again issues not associated to changes to recent legislation – these are issues many countries are dealing with and we are dealing with them responsibly to give public satisfaction and reassurance and acting in a way that's challenging the notion that trans people generally pose threats to women or anyone else."
Ms Sturgeon said she had "no knowledge" of any government intervention in the decision to take Isla Bryson to Cornton Vale. There have been reports that she was originally due to be remanded to Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.
The first minister also hinted that the temporary ban on the transfer of potentially violent transgender inmates to women's prisons might become permanent.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Let's allow the review to take its course but I think what we have set out on a temporary basis is likely to give an indication of the direction of travel.
"From my point of view, it's not so important what gender they are, it's the crimes that they have committed.
"In the case of the one that was in the media last week, this is an individual who has committed very serious crimes and committed acts of rape."
Earlier, Justice Secretary Keith Brown said there were currently no transgender prisoners with violence convictions against women in the female prison estate.
Mr Brown told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme that in the case of Tiffany Scott, a final decision on her prison placement had not been taken, contrary to some media reports.
He said that in exceptional circumstances a trans woman could be moved to the female estate, but that would require the approval of Scottish ministers.
Mr Brown added: "You cannot insist on that right if you're a transgender woman or man, to be placed in the estate where you want to be placed.
"It will only happen as a result of a multi-party assessment, a rigorous risk assessment that goes on and that is what determines where people are placed."
Since 2019 the SPS has been conducting a review of gender identity and reassignment policy in response to concerns raised about the safety and welfare of people in its care.
Mr Brown said that if the review recommended a specific unit for trans people, that would be considered.
The Scottish Conservatives have demanded a parliamentary update from Nicola Sturgeon on the safety of female prisoners after "days of SNP chaos, confusion and U-turns".
Equalities spokesperson Rachael Hamilton said: "The first minister has been forced to make up policy on the hoof because her original positions are so out of touch with public opinion."
A Scottish government spokesperson said the justice secretary had already pledged to update parliament on measures to ensure prisoner safety and careful consideration would be given to any further action.
"The Scottish government is always ready to consider specific feedback including measures to make the Bail and Release from Custody Bill, currently before parliament, even more effective," they added.
Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray told BBC Radio Scotland that events of the past week had been "botched" by the Scottish government and the justice secretary.
The Labour MP said: "I think in all reasonable terms people would see the current issues that are going on around the Isla Bryson case as being unreasonable.
"The Scottish government really do need to sort this out because the Equality Act is clear that single-sex spaces, including women's prisons, have got to be protected under the law, and it looks in this case as if people are being put in danger," he said.
"I don't think it does either the prison community, the Scottish government, or indeed the trans community any favours whatsoever."
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