Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Craig Paton

Isla Bryson not in contact with women during Cornton Vale stay – prison service

PA Wire

Double rapist Isla Bryson was not in contact with women while housed at HMP Cornton Vale, the prison service has confirmed.

The key findings of an urgent review ordered by Justice Secretary Keith Brown, which was completed at the end of last week, found that Bryson, who spent a day-and-a-half in the all-female facility near Stirling, was housed in a segregation unit and orders from the prison governor meant there was no contact with other prisoners.

Bryson would be moved to the male estate after outcry from the public and politicians, but the prison service review found “at no time during this period were any women in SPS care at risk of harm as a consequence of the management of the individual”.

Key findings and recommendations resulting from the review were published on Thursday, but Scottish Prison Service (SPS) chief executive Teresa Medhurst said she believed it “is not necessary” to publish the report due to the level of personal information it contains.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross urged Nicola Sturgeon to publish in full the review of the Bryson case at First Minister’s Questions earlier on Thursday, with Ms Sturgeon pledging only to release the “key findings”.

Recommendations made by the review include improved communication within the justice sector and the creation of a “shared justice process” for the admission of transgender people into prisons.

In a letter to the Criminal Justice Committee, Mr Brown said: “Firstly, I want to acknowledge my concern for victims of crime and the distress caused to them.

“It is important that consideration of issues relating to the management of prisoners is measured and does not retraumatise victims or risk unintended consequences for transgender people or individuals in the care of SPS.

“All recommendations from the review have been accepted by Ms Medhurst as chief executive and will be progressed by SPS in collaboration with others as needed.

“As confirmed in the letter, SPS will factor the learning identified from this review into its gender identity and gender reassignment (GIGR) policy review, which is ongoing.

“Pending the outcome of the GIGR policy review, measures to provide reassurance, as set out in Ms Medhurst’s letter, will remain in place.”

Mr Brown added: “SPS has considerable expertise in managing complex, high-profile and challenging individuals within their care and keeping people safe; and I commend their professionalism.”

Ms Medhurst, in her own letter to the committee, said: “It is clear from the conclusion of the review that SPS decisions were in keeping with existing SPS policies and procedures in shaping operational decisions.

“The application of the current policy and prison rules meant that the individual had no access to women due to their removal from association.”

The review answers some key questions about the process by which Bryson was housed in Cornton Vale.

Upon conviction on January 24, Bryson was taken by contractor GeoAmey from the court, bound for HMP Barlinnie, but was diverted after the prison service was informed of her identifying as a woman.

The court service, the report found, allocates prisoners to facilities based on their sex rather than gender, meaning Bryson was sent in the first instance to the male estate.

The prison service took the decision to house Bryson at Cornton Vale “in alignment with current policy”, the review said, in the separation and reintegration unit.

Bryson was also placed under rule 95 (1) of prison rules, meaning the governor of the facility had ordered “that a prisoner must be removed from association with other prisoners, either generally or to prevent participation in a prescribed activity or activities”, which can be done to maintain order in the prison, protect the interests of any prisoner, or ensure the safety of others.

It is an affront to Bryson’s victims that the prison service is pandering to this rapist’s right as justification for their refusal to publish
— Russell Findlay

On January 26, the decision was taken to move Bryson to the male estate whereby the conditions of rule 95 (1) were lifted.

A pause on the movement of transgender prisoners with a history of violence against women into the female estate will continue until a wider review of the handling of transgender prisoners can be undertaken.

Scottish Tory community safety spokesman Russell Findlay described the publication as a “whitewash summary”, adding: “We still have no idea why a double rapist was sent into a women’s prison or what involvement SNP ministers had in his removal following the public backlash.

“Given the widespread concern and anger, this report should have been published and in full, not just some woolly summary.

“It is an affront to Bryson’s victims that the prison service is pandering to this rapist’s right as justification for their refusal to publish.

“This is typical of SNP secrecy and raises more questions than answers. It is clear that this shoddy stunt is part of the ongoing exercise in damage limitation for Nicola Sturgeon – not a sincere attempt to learn lessons.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.