Police Scotland launch review of policy which lets male rapists identify as women

23 February 2022, 16:09

Women protesting outside Holyrood about government plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act
Women protesting outside Holyrood about government plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act. Picture: Alamy

By Gina Davidson

Scotland's police will review a policy which means male rapists are officially recorded as being women if they "identify as female" after an outcry by women's organisations.

Police Scotland had come under fire in December when it said it would record the sex of criminals in line with how they “present or self-declare”, even in cases of rape despite UK law stating that male genitilia is required to commit the offence.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling condemned the move on Twitter saying: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman,” alongside a link to an article about the policy.

The force had previously defended the policy, claiming concerns were “hypothetical” because the circumstances had never arisen.

However today the chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Martyn Evans, said the force was “rightly reviewing internal policies and recording procedures” around sex and gender.

In papers to the SPA board meeting he said there had been discussions between Police Scotland the Scottish Government over the matter.

The government is expected to bring forward a Bill to reform the Gender Recognition Act which would bring into legal force the concept of self-identification of sex, which has prompted concerns about the potential impact on women, single-sex spaces, and the collection of vital data, including crime statistics.

These have been dismissed by LGBT+ campaigners who say the reform is needed to stop an "intrusive" process for transgender people to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate, which replaces their birth certificate.

Mr Evans said that the SPA, which scrutinises Police Scotland, had been “clear that it expects Police Scotland to comply with all relevant legislation and professional guidance in relation to sex and gender data recording”.

He added that he believed the force made “every effort” to do so.

It is understood the review will be carried out by Police Scotland’s data governance board.

The Scottish Prisons Service is also carrying out a review of its policy which allows male prisoners who self-identifiy as women to be housed in the female prison estate.

When asked about the policy in December, Deputy Chief Constable Malcolm Graham told a Holyrood committee that a case “in which somebody who had committed an act of rape was biologically a man but self-identified as a woman” had never happened in Scotland.

He was unable to say whether the complainer would be informed if an alleged rapist identified as female.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "Police Scotland continually reviews its policies and practices, particularly as government guidance and legislation develops and is introduced.

"Police Scotland continues to monitor the progress made by the Scottish Government in relation to the Gender Recognition Act."