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Saturday 20th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier

A TRANSGENDER woman who died in a men’s prison in Leeds received “inadequate care,” a jury concluded yesterday. Vikki Thompson had been on remand at HMP Leeds for less than a month when she died in November 2015.

An inquest into her death concluded that the 21-year-old did not intend to take her own life.

The foreman said: “The management of her treatment and mental state of mind were lacking in professionalism and inadequate for an individual of such complex issues.”

He said more attention should have been paid to Ms Thompson as a transgender woman.

Ms Thompson’s partner Robert Steele told the jury she did not want to be in a men’s jail and had written to him, saying: “I know I’m going to do something silly.”

She had repeatedly told prison staff that she would be “carried out in a box.”

Her mother Lisa Harrison said her daughter had been raped prior to going to prison.

She said: “I do not feel that the prison fully appreciated Vikki’s vulnerabilities and I believe their lack of insight has resulted in her death.”

Ms Thompson had identified as female since she was 10 years old but had not had surgical or hormone treatment and, as she did not have a gender recognition certificate, she was sent to a male prison.

She also had a history of drug, alcohol and mental health problems.

Ms Thompson was subjected to hourly checks but not put on the prison wing for vulnerable inmates as staff feared she would be in danger from sex offenders.

After experiencing bullying, sexual harassment and having self-harmed, she was moved to the vulnerable prisoners’ wing at her own request.

The director of the charity Inquest Deborah Coles said: “Recent inquests at HMP Leeds and other prisons have shown staff are unable to implement even the most basic training and policies intended to protect vulnerable prisoners.”

Three transgender women have died in men’s prisons in the last 18 months. Since 2013, HMP Leeds has had the second highest rate of deaths across prisons in Britain.