We have been working to encourage calm, respectful dialogue and discussion on the practical challenges of housing transgender individuals in the prison system.
Since the autumn of 2018, our Director has written a number of think pieces for our website and made various media interventions.
In February 2019 the Centre's Trustees lead a process with the staff team, which resulted in the publication of a formal statement on transgender prisoners. It concluded:
We recognise that this is a complex area of policy and practice, with a number of different, and principled, views, perspectives and concerns, sometimes expressed strongly and emotively. We believe it is very important that differences are aired; collaborative solutions to problems sought where possible; and disagreement acknowledged and recognised respectfully. Conflict often generates opportunities for new thinking to emerge.
We do not believe there is a single or a simple answer to any of the issues relating to justice, punishment or crime. We do believe that by thinking and working through the knots of systemic injustice together, we will create new opportunities for genuinely compassionate communities.
To date, the statement has garnered close to 150 responses, which have been overwhelmingly supportive of the position set out in the statement.
In May 2019, at the request of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the Centre's Director hosted a private meeting of MoJ officials and civil society organisation representatives to discuss the a draft framework on transgender people under criminal justice sanction, then under development by the MoJ and Prison Service. The new framework formally came into effect at the end of October 2019.
We plan to keep a watching brief on developments in this complex and difficult area of policy.