Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Transgender woman found dead in cell at HMP Doncaster

Jenny Swift
Image caption Jenny Swift was being held on remand after she was charged with attempted murder

A transgender woman being held at a male prison while on remand has been found dead in her cell, it has emerged.

Jenny Swift, 49, was found unresponsive at HMP Doncaster, South Yorkshire, on 30 December and later pronounced dead.

Ms Swift, from Seaforth in Sefton, Merseyside, was remanded in custody after a man was stabbed in November and later died.

An unnamed friend of hers said she had asked to be put into a women's prison, the Sheffield Star reported.

Updates on this story and more from around South Yorkshire

Ms Swift was charged with attempted murder and criminal damage after an assault on Surrey Street in Balby, Doncaster, on 15 November.

Eric Flanagan, 26, was found with multiple stab wounds and died a month later.

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was understood Ms Swift was being monitored in prison due to fears she might self-harm.

She had been taking non-prescription hormone drugs to help her transition to a woman, but the medication was stopped when she entered custody, he added.

Image caption HMP Doncaster is a category B prison with more than 900 inmates and was opened in 1994

Police were in the process of consulting with the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to a possible change to the attempted murder charge.

The Prison Service said Ms Swift, who was charged under the name Jonathan Swift, was found at 00:40 GMT with prison staff and paramedics attempting CPR. She was declared dead at 01:10.

An independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will now take place, a spokesperson added.

Det Ch Insp Vicky Short, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "On Friday 30 December, we were made aware that the person charged in this investigation had died.

"However, the inquiry into Mr Flanagan's death remains ongoing at this time and his family continue to be supported by officers."

Government review

HMP Doncaster is a category B prison with more than 900 inmates, and has been operated by Serco since 2003.

In 2015, a government review of the handling of transgender prisoners in England and Wales was ordered by then-Justice Secretary Michael Gove.

It followed the deaths of transgender women Vikki Thompson and Joanne Latham, who were being held in all-male prisons.

Published in November, the review revealed that one in four prisons in England and Wales holds at least one transgender inmate.

The review said: "It is apparent that the treatment of transgender people in courts, probation and prison services has not kept pace with the development of a more general understanding of the issues surrounding gender in society."

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