Leeds & West Yorkshire

Transgender prison death: Peers back reform

Robert Steel and Vikki Thompson Image copyright Robert Steele
Image caption The case of Vikki Thompson who died at the all-male Armley jail was raised in the House of Lords

Peers have backed calls for a shake-up of the government's handling of transgender prisoners.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Baroness Barker raised the case of Vikki Thompson to call for a change in government policy.

Ms Thompson, 21, died at Armley jail on 13 November. She had said she would kill herself if sent to a male prison.

Justice Department minister Lord Faulks said the policy regarding transgender prisoners was currently under review.

'Dangerous thing to do'

Baroness Barker said: "Recent events have shown that placing transwomen in male estates is a dangerous thing to do.

"Transprisoners should be housed in the estate of their acquired gender in the first instance, and only moved to the other estate following a thorough investigation that has ruled out all other safe alternatives."

Labour peer, and former EastEnders actor, Lord Cashman called for a review of the situation of all transpeople in jail, saying they should be moved to "appropriate prisons according to their acquired gender in order to avoid a repeat of the tragedy that befell Vikki Thompson".

The death of Ms Thompson led to a review of the government's policy on the care of transgender prisoners.

Ms Thompson's death came just weeks after another transgender woman was sent to a men's prison in Bristol.

Tara Hudson, from Bath, was later transferred to a female prison after a campaign to get her moved.

Labour's Lord Beecham called for a broadening out of the government's review to include staff training given that 186 suicides had taken place in prisons in the year to September, and self-harming incidents had increased by 21%.

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