Photo: HMP Isle of Wight

HMP Isle of Wight is issuing badges to inmates to express their preferred gender pronouns as part of a gender identity inclusion week.

The move, which aims to promote inclusivity amongst the prison community, has received mixed reviews from commenters online – including the Chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Tim Laughton MP, who has slammed the scheme and branded it as ‘pandering to serious criminals’.

Category B HMP Isle of Wight – nowadays made up of the Parkhurst and Albany sites – mainly houses convicted sex offenders and paedophiles within its walls, with one of its former inmates being Gary Glitter.

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The prison’s equalities team announced in an official tweet that 6 varieties of the purple badge have been issued with a variety of pronouns including ‘he/they’, ‘he/him’, ‘her/they’, ‘she/her’, and ‘they/them’. Another of the badges available reads ‘Ask me!’.

The official tweet announcing the news has now reached over 1,000 replies, with comments mostly skewing on the negative.

Tim Laughton MP explained his view on the matter to The Telegraph:

“Oh dear so now woke has broken into prison too.

“There is a real problem in this country with getting sex offenders convicted and behind bars in the first place so the last thing we need to be pandering to is making sure serious criminals have their personal pronouns respected.

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“They are in jail to be punished and rehabilitated and this will further undermine the confidence of the survivors of sexual attacks who have already been put through enough trauma by their attackers and then again having to relive those experiences in court.”

Also speaking to The Telegraph, Ian Acheson, a former prison governor, said:

“The Isle of Wight cluster contains nearly a thousand sex offenders, many of them sentenced for very serious crimes. Instead of obsessing over pronouns for rapists and paedophiles, perhaps the prison service should invest its time and energy fixing a treatment programme that some research shows makes them worse.

“It’s getting harder and harder to see HMPPS as a law enforcement agency with public protection at its heart. The Justice Secretary Mr Dominic Raab has some urgent work to do.”

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On Twitter, comments have been equally critical – with some branding the badges as a waste of money:

According to the MailOnline, HMP Isle of Wight’s Parole Board released a 14-page document called ‘Guidance on Prisoners who are Transgender’ in March in which panel members were advised to check an inmate’s preferred form of name and term of address.

It said:

‘This may require confirming at the appropriate point during introductions, how the prisoner wishes to be addressed in the hearing, then using the chosen name and gender-appropriate form of address.”

The document said if a prisoner was incorrectly addressed with the wrong pronoun ‘an immediate, simple apology is appropriate’.

Inclusion week is set to take place until Sunday across the country and is an opportunity for businesses, workplaces, and other organisations to demonstrate their plans to improve inclusivity and promote diversity.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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