Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Ruaraidh Gilmour
27 January 2023
Scottish Government urged to record anyone charged or convicted with rape as male

Isla Bryson was convicted of raping two women at the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday

Scottish Government urged to record anyone charged or convicted with rape as male

The Scottish Conservatives have urged the Scottish Government to record anyone charged or convicted of rape as male, regardless of whether they have since changed their gender.  

Shadow community safety minister Russell Findlay has called on the Scottish Government to give Police Scotland “unequivocal direction” that rapists must always be recorded as male criminals because “in law, rape can only be committed by a male”.  

The call has been made in the wake of the high-profile case of a double rapist, Isla Bryson, who was charged as a man, but later chose to self-ID as a woman.  

Bryson was found guilty of raping two women in 2016 and 2019, while known as Adam Graham. Police Scotland have confirmed to Holyrood that as the offences took place before Graham's transition, they would be recorded as being the act of a male.  

Bryson was sent to Cornton Vale women’s prison earlier this week but was transferred to a male facility on Thursday afternoon.  

Police Scotland deputy chief constable Malcolm Graham had previously told the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee that the gender ID of those who come before the police was based on how they self-declare, although he added, in December 2021, he was not then aware of a case of someone accused of rape self-identifying as a female.  

Current guidance also states that if a criminal produces a Gender Recognition Certificate, their gender can be changed on the Criminal History System for Scotland, which is used for crime statistics.  

Findlay said: “This horrific rape case has brought a number of issues into sharp focus. One of these is that, in law, rape can only be committed by a male. On that basis, those convicted of this crime must not only serve their sentence in a male prison but have their crime recorded as having been committed by a male.  

“This is so obvious and so basic yet only in SNP-run Scotland does it need to be said. How rapists subsequently choose to identify should be immaterial, the current guidance on crime recording is wrong-headed and offensive.  

“The police require unequivocal direction from SNP ministers that all rapists must have their offences recorded as a male crime. For them to be recorded otherwise would be grossly offensive and insulting to victims and all women.  

"Public fury forced Nicola Sturgeon to U-turn yesterday, only to save her own skin, and belatedly direct the Scottish Prison Service to transfer Adam Graham to a male prison. Nicola Sturgeon initially tried to blame the prison service for this scandal of her making.  

“She can’t similarly pass the buck to Police Scotland here. Instead, she must show she’s on the side of victims, rather than criminals, by issuing clear guidelines on this issue.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The recording of information on those committing crime, including their gender, is an operational matter for Police Scotland.

“The Scottish Government does not have the power of direction over Police Scotland. This was a deliberate choice during the passage of the 2012 Act to preserve the operational independence of the Chief Constable.”

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Ruaraidh Gilmour - Scotland's circular economy: What goes around comes around.



Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top