Women Prisons – 6 April 2023

I hosted an event in Westminster last week on behalf of campaign group Keep Prisons Single Sex.

Billed as the bicentenary of the Gaols Act 1823, which saw prison reform driven by the likes of Elizabeth Fry, the event dealt with the modern-day issue of men self-identifying as female and seeking access to the women’s prison estate. Those speaking laid down the historical basis of the women’s estate and the corporate capture that resulted in this idiocy.

England and Wales are rolling back fast, as are other nations. Leo Varadkar in Ireland has spoken of the need to learn from the Scottish debacle and Keir Starmer’s done a U-turn on Scottish Labour’s position. Anyone seeing social media clips of the New Zealand PM being utterly hapless when asked to define a woman can see why. It’s worth a watch and exposes the policy’s idiocy. It makes Nicola Sturgeon’s inability to say whether a convicted rapist was a man or a woman look positively erudite.

Scotland remains irredentist under New SNP. But the issue did for the former FM, and it’ll do for Humza Yousaf. An earlier suggestion that he’d follow legal advice seems to have been abandoned after pressure by the Greens. That means he’ll challenge the UK Government’s s35 order blocking the gender bill. That’ll just waste public funds and be crushed in court. Worse, the more that folk know about it, the worse it’ll get for him.

Scotland was once in a better place than south of the Border. Warnings were being given though about what might come. The Scottish Prison Service previously managed to use their risk assessment policy and spare the injustice heaped on vulnerable women. But corporate capture has seen the prison service dancing to the Scottish Government’s tune. So why England has sorted it, while it’s worsened in Scotland?

Recent stats showed the majority of these men only self-identified after conviction, a sign it’s a ruse to avoid being sent to a male prison. Moreover, whilst none among those figures had committed sex offences, most had perpetrated crimes of significant, even severe violence. Hardly conducive to avoiding distressing vulnerable women who’ve endured a lifetime of male violence.

Yousaf has been warned, hell mend him if he continues with this insanity.