AN SNP MSP has been accused of issuing “a very shrill anti-trans dog whistle” after suggesting transgender female prisoners should serve their sentences in male facilities.

John Mason claimed the move would ensure female prison who have suffered “violence and sexual assault” in the past would be better protected despite a lack of evidence to suggest that trans women pose a threat to female inmates in prisons.

Data released by UK minsiters for England and Wales found that out of 124 sexual assaults in five women's jails from 2010 to 2018, only seven had been carried out by trans prisoners.

Speaking at Holyrood, Mr Mason asked Justice Secretary Keith Brown “how many people whose biological sex is male are currently in women’s prisons in Scotland?”

Mr Brown said that as of January 5, “there were five transgender women located in the women’s estate in Scotland”, according to the Scottish Prison Service (SPS).

Mr Mason added: “I do wonder, does the Cabinet Secretary not think that female offenders, many of whom have suffered violence and sexual assault previously, should be entitled to a single sex prison?”

My Brown said polices were in place to ensure “the rights and safety of everyone in prison” is taken into account.

He said: “I think the practice that has been undertaken previously by the Scottish Prison Service, I think in common with other prison services throughout the UK, is to adapt a process which seeks to make sure that the rights and safety of everyone in prison is looked at when these issues are taken into account.

“I think they do that in a very structured way and a very sensitive way.”

Mr Brown added: “They are undergoing a review now to look at this both in terms of how they collect further information which will help provide the information which John Mason sought to have before him.

“That information, which if very particular to the day in which it’s asked, will be povided more regularly.

“It is the case that the SPS do, in a very sensitive way, judge people’s rights and the safety of all the prisoners within their care on a regular basis, not least in relation to transgender prisoners.”

But Mr Mason’s suggestion prompted an angry response from Greens backbench MSP Maggie Chapman.

She said: “I must say that there is a very shrill anti-trans dog whistle in John Mason’s question which is deeply troubling, especially with the rises in transphobic hate crimes we are seeing reported.”