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Prisons: Body Searches

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL13970, tabled on 8 March 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to revise the current policy that women prisoners have the right to be searched only by officers of female sex assigned at birth, as outlined in Procedures for searching people: PSI 07/2016, published on 26 July 2016, as part of their review of those procedures.

Answered on

22 March 2021

The national policy on the searching of prisoners, staff and visitors (PSI 07/2016 – Searching of the Person) is currently under review and a revised version is intended to be published later this year. The updated policy will include direction on transgender staff conducting searches. This will encompass staff with or without a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

This policy allows for male officers to conduct rub down searches on the same sex only and female officers to conduct rub down searches on both sexes and has been in place since 1992. Full searches must only be conducted by a person of the same sex.

In accordance with the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) 2004, transgender people may apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Prisoners and staff members in receipt of a GRC have the legal right to be treated as their acquired gender in every respect.

In reviewing the policy, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) has consulted with the Government’s Legal Department and HMPPS Equalities Team. The new policy will be compliant with the Equality Act 2010, Gender Recognition Act 2004 and the European Convention of Human Rights.