Prison staff treat muslims as “potential terrorists”

Muslim prisoners could be driven to extremism by a crude security-led approach that treats them all as potential terrorists, the chief inspector of prisons warns today. Dame Anne Owers said the treatment of Muslim prisoners as potential or actual terrorists is common despite the fact that fewer than 1% are in prison for terrorist-related offences.

Her report is based on interviews with 164 Muslim prisoners in eight prisons and young offender institutions. “It would be naive to deny that there are, within the prison population, Muslims who hold radical extremist views, or who may be attracted to them for a variety of reasons,” she said. “But that does not argue for a blanket, security-led approach to Muslim prisoners in general.”

She called on the National Offender Management Service (Noms) to develop a strategy “for effective staff engagement with Muslims as individual prisoners with specific risks and needs, rather than as part of a separate and troubling group”.