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by Louise Wilson
09 February 2023
Douglas Ross: Female prison staff ‘forced’ to search trans prisoners ‘completely unacceptable’

Douglas Ross: Female prison staff ‘forced’ to search trans prisoners ‘completely unacceptable’

Female prison officers should not be forced to conduct strip searches of trans prisoners, Douglas Ross has said.

The Scottish Tory leader said female staff had been forced to search prisoner Tiffany Scott, who is currently serving a sentence in a men's prison.

Scott had requested a transfer to a women's prison after coming out as trans, but this request was denied.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Prison Service had technology to conduct searches of prisoners without making physical contact.

Ross raised the matter at FMQs on Thursday, saying it was “completely unacceptable”. He asked: “Will she [Sturgeon] intervene today to stop women prison officers being forced to strip search the likes of Tiffany Scott?”

He also called for the review of how rapist Isla Bryson came to be held initially in a women's prison to be published immediately.

Sturgeon confirmed the justice secretary received that review on Wednesday and committed to publishing the findings, but did not give a timescale.

On strip searches of prisoners, she said the Scottish Prison Service’s approach “supports staff as well as inmate” and that she “trusts their handling of these matters”.

She added: “When it comes to searches in the prison estate, firstly the Scottish Prison of course has been dealing with transgender prisoners – although they are very, very small  in number – for many, many years now. They have been doing it safety and effectively, they are experienced in managing these situations.

“But of course it’s also the case that the SPS have the ability to use technology to search individuals without the need for any physical search to be conducted by officers.”

Also at FMQs, Scottish Labour's Anas Sarwar raised cash for local government.

The FM said councils were receiving a real terms increase and urged Sarwar to bring forward "credible" proposals if he wanted to provide more.

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