A TRANSGENDER woman convicted of rape will not serve her sentence in Scotland’s only all-female prison, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The First Minister spoke as the row continued over where Isla Bryson, who was convicted earlier this week of raping two women when she was a man, should be imprisoned.

Sturgeon also confirmed reports that the Scottish Government will block any proposed cuts of teacher numbers by local councils, with the Education Secretary to set out further details in the rest of the week. 

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Sturgeon confirmed a risk assessment is being carried out by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS), as she stressed Bryson would not be accommodated at Cornton Vale women’s prison near Stirling.

READ MORE: FMQs RECAP: Nicola Sturgeon confirms Isla Bryson not being sent to Cornton Vale

Sturgeon said: “It would not be appropriate for me, in respect of any prisoner, to give details of where they are being incarcerated.

“But given the understandable public and parliamentary concern in this case, I can confirm to parliament that this prisoner will not be incarcerated at Cornton Vale women’s prison.

“I hope that provides assurance to the public.”

Bryson, previously known as Adam Graham, was found guilty on Tuesday of raping one woman in Clydebank in 2016 and another in Drumchapel, Glasgow, in 2019, following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow and was understood to be being held at Cornton Vale ahead of sentencing next month.

The National: Ross repeatedly asked where the prisoner is currently housedRoss repeatedly asked where the prisoner is currently housed (Image: PA)

Her estranged wife, Shonna Graham, 31, claimed her decision to change gender was a “sham” and accused Bryson of being abusive during their relationship in an interview with the Daily Mail.

Just hours after Sturgeon's statement, it was confirmed that Bryson had been moved into a male prison, with the transfer due to be completed on Thursday evening. 

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross asked the FM why a convicted rapist would be allowed to serve time in a women’s prison, with Sturgeon responding that no female transgender prisoner is given the right to be housed in a women’s prison in the Scottish justice system, but that the SPS takes decisions on individual risk assessments.

It follows Justice Secretary Keith Brown’s insistence on Wednesday that the Scottish Government “trusts” the SPS decision making process.

READ MORE: SNP MP asked Alister Jack to find 'resolution' on Scotland's gender reforms

However, the FM said on Thursday that she agreed with the chief executive of Rape Crisis’ comments that a rapist should not be jailed in a women’s prison.

She added: “What I have said is that short term or long term, this prisoner is not going to be in Cornton Vale but it is important to allow the Scottish Prison Service operationally to give effect to the decisions taken.”

Ross asked a number of times where Bryson is currently being held, to which the FM said: “The Scottish Prison Service is in the process of giving effect to the decision it has taken not to incarcerate this prisoner in Cornton Vale.”

A Scottish Prison Service spokesman said: “Decisions by the SPS as to the most appropriate location to accommodate transgender people are made on an individualised basis, informed by a multi-disciplinary assessment of both risk and need.

“Such decisions seek to protect both the wellbeing and rights of the individual as well as the welfare and rights of others around them, including staff, in order to achieve an outcome that balances risks and promotes the safety of all, and that is exactly what has happened in this case.”

Additionally, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar raised A&E waiting times, asking the FM if she knew how many people waited over 24 hours to be seen in emergency departments before revealing the answer was 6362.

Sarwar compared this to the same period in 2019, when 48 patients waited over a day to be seen. The First Minister pointed out that a global pandemic had occurred in 2020 putting extreme pressure on the health service, but said she is "cautiously optimistic" that waiting times will become more "consistent". 

It comes after Health Secretary Humza Yousaf allocated £8 million to "buy out" 300 care home beds at an advanced rate, in a bid to reduce the number of delayed discharges in hospitals, and help reduce waiting times.

The FM also confirmed reports that the Scottish Government will block any attempts by councils to use funding to increase teacher numbers elsewhere. The SNP pledged in its 2021 election manifesto to increase teacher numbers by at least 3500 before the end of the parliamentary session.

She said: "The Government will act to protect teacher numbers, this government has a commitment to increase teacher numbers and indeed councils are being given additional funding specifically to deliver that. 

"So it would not be acceptable to me or to the Scottish Government to see teacher numbers fall.

"I can confirm therefore the government does intend to take steps to ensure that the funding we are providing to councils to maintain and increase numbers of teachers actually delivers that income and the Education Secretary will set out more details to Parliament in the coming days."

READ MORE: Isla Bryson: Why are trans criminals put in Scottish women's prisons?

Elsewhere, Scottish Greens MSP Maggie Chapman asked the FM for her views on the reports that dozens of migrants have been forced into homelessness due to a Home Office policy.

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) is a condition attached to work, family and study visas that restricts access to a lot of aspects of social security, including Universal Credit and child benefits and a range of other support like homelessness assistance. 

The First Minister said the policy was "unacceptable, shocking and disturbing in the extreme". 

"We have repeatedly raised the devastating impact of these policies, we will continue to work with Cosla to improve access to support services for people who are subjected to these policies as far as we possibly can within devolved powers," she added.

The National: The FM was asked for her response to the first round of levelling up funding announcementsThe FM was asked for her response to the first round of levelling up funding announcements

SNP MSP John Mason raised the numerous failed bids by Scottish councils for funding from the UK Government's Levelling Up scheme.

The FM said: "We disagree with the Westminster Government making decisions in devolved areas, and of course any additional funding is welcome but this should be devolved through the Barnett formula, just as we were promised the EU funding after Brexit, to allow Scottish ministers and councils to make decisions about its use."

Scottish Labour MSP Paul Sweeney raised the issue of migrant children disappearing from hotels in England while they were supposed to be under the care of the Home Office.