Who are the males held in women’s prisons?


So who are these males who are held in women’s prisons?  What offences have they been convicted of?  What are the lengths of sentences they have received?  How do their convictions and sentences compare to those of women in prison?


The HM Prison and Probation Service Offender Equalities Annual Report, which provided some information about ‘transgender’ prisoners and how many are held in women’s prisons, does not provide any information about the categories of offence committed, nor length of sentence.  (Remember: males with a GRC are excluded from this Report as they will have been recorded as women and as female.)


We have collected details of 28 males convicted between 2014 and 2020 who are known to have been held in women’s prisons or have been given a place in a women’s hostel after release.  This information was obtained from the website transcrimeuk.com.  This incredible resource has data going back to 2014.  However, the true number of males who have been held in female prisons is almost certain to be higher than this.  Firstly, we have only accessed information from 2014 onwards and as we know males were eligible to be housed in women’s prisons before this date.  Indeed, Professor Michael Biggs in his paper looking at the changing criteria for admission to women’s prisons mentions the names of two males housed in women’s prisons in the 1980s.  Secondly, only those males whose crimes were reported in the media are included.  Most trials, even for serious offences, are not reported in the media.  Thirdly, the place of incarceration of some males who we know have ‘transitioned’ and who have been convicted and sentenced to imprisonment is not known, even when the conviction was reported in the media.  These males could be housed in a men’s prison or in a women’s prison.  Lastly, males who have ‘transitioned’ and who were known to be held in the male estate could have successfully applied to be transferred to a women’s prison.  We know that males have been successful in these applications and there is no reason to assume that all of these transfers to the female estate have been reported by the media.


Let’s return to the 28 males who we know have been held in female prisons or given places in women’s hostel’s after release.  What offences were they convicted of?  Most were convicted of more than one offence and most had a history of serious offending.  All but two of them were convicted of violent or sexual offences.  This includes: ten who were convicted of rape or attempted rape, including the rape of children; ten who were convicted of murder or attempted murder; four who were convicted of sexual offences against children.  These are violent and dangerous males.  When we look at sentencing, we get a picture that reflects the nature and severity of the crimes committed: ten were jailed for life; one was jailed indefinitely for public protection; five received sentences of between ten and twenty years.


You can read about some of these males in our Case Studies section.


We discussed the differences between male offending and female offending on the Women in Prison page.  It is clear that these males who are imprisoned with women are wholly unlike women in prison in terms of offence and severity of sentence.


Other sources of data also indicate a pattern of offending amongst males who identify as ‘transgender’ that has nothing in common with female patterns of offending.  The women’s rights group Fair Play for Women carried out research in 2017 which showed that half of all known transgender prisoners had been convicted of offences serious enough to require housing in maximum security or specialist sex offender prisons.  The MoJ subsequently confirmed that at least 50% of all known transgender prisoners at that time had at least one conviction for sexual offences.  You can read about that at https://fairplayforwomen.com/campaigns/prisons/.


That males who are housed in female prisons are unlike women in prison in that they are convicted of more serious offences, including the most serious violent and sexual offences, and that the length of their sentences reflect this may be unsurprising.  What is possibly more surprising is that this group of males is also unlike male offenders, considered as a group.  Males who are housed in women’s prisons are clustered at the most serious end of offending. 

Yet, the Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service and the Scottish Prison Service consider it appropriate to house these males with vulnerable women.  Keep Prisons Single Sex says no.  We say this must end.