Two-thirds of Britons agree trans ‘offenders like Isla Bryson’ should be in men’s prisons

Adam Graham - Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Adam Graham - Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Around six out of 10 people across Scotland and Britain believe trans sex offenders who have not had gender reassignment surgery should serve their sentences in men’s prison, a new poll has shown.

The YouGov survey said 59 per cent of Britons thought “offenders like Isla Bryson” who are convicted of sexual assault or rape should be housed in men’s prisons. The same proportion of Scots agreed with this.

In comparison, only 15 per cent said they should be jailed in a woman's prison such as Cornton Vale in Stirling, where Bryson was initially sent last week after being convicted of two rapes. The remainder of the respondents were unsure.

The poll was published as the SNP MP whose constituency includes Cornton Vale was criticised after he refused to provide a view on the Bryson case.

Alyn Smith, the Stirling MP, was asked by LBC whether “trans people who are convicted of crimes like that should be in women's jails.”

Despite the scandal dominating the headlines in Scotland over the past week, Mr Smith looked towards an aide, before replying: “I’ve nothing to say on that.”

In a separate interview with the BBC, he suggested an unnecessary fuss was being made, saying: "There’s a great big hoopla going on about some of this.”

Rachael Hamilton, the Scottish Tories’ equalities spokeswoman, said: “It’s astonishing and deplorable that Alyn Smith can’t even bring himself to admit that it’s wrong for a rapist to be housed in a women’s prison.

“The fact that his constituency includes Cornton Vale, where Isla Bryson was initially sent, makes his cop-out response even worse.”

Court chiefs had wanted to send Bryson to Glasgow's men-only Barlinnie prison but current Scottish Prison Service guidance already states that trans criminals should be sent to the prison that matches their self-identified gender that they were living in prior to their conviction.

Bryson was named Adam Graham when committing the rapes and has not legally changed gender. Following a huge public outcry, the rapist was moved to a men’s cell in Edinburgh’s Saughton jail.

Nicola Sturgeon last week repeatedly refused to say whether she considered Bryson, who was named Adam Graham when committing the rapes, to be a man or a woman. When pressed this week, she said the rapist was a woman.

The First Minister insisted the decision on whether a male or female prison was appropriate was “not about whether they are trans or not” but rested on the individual being a “rapist and sex offender”.

But the poll shows whether a trans offender has had “full” reassignment surgery matters more to Britons than their crime when deciding where they should be imprisoned.

Support for sending a trans criminal to a male prison was 11 points higher if they had committed a rape or sexual assault, compared to another type of offence.

But backing for them serving their sentence in a man’s jail was 28 points higher if they had not had full gender reassignment surgery, compared to if they had.

Both Conservative (70 per cent) and Labour (50 per cent) said trans offenders who have not had full reassignment surgery and who are convicted of rape or sexual assault should go to men’s prison, with only 13 per cent and 17 per cent respectively saying women’s prison.