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”.

Staff ‘fears’ over Muslim inmates

A prison inspection report has detailed the “fear” felt by staff at Whitemoor high security jail in Cambridgeshire at the radicalisation of Muslim prisoners. The Chief Inspector of Prisons said the findings highlighted a growing “disaffection and distance” between Muslim inmates and the prison system. Anne Owers said the growing situation “urgently” needed addressing. The National Offender Management Service said work to improve prisoner and staff relations was “a priority”. Ms Owers said the Prison Service “needs to equip staff better to deal with the growing number of Muslim prisoners”. Her report comes about four months after the publication of a report by the Prison Service which also expressed concern about problems with the high number of Muslim inmates at Whitemoor.

Ms Owers’ report says a fundamental problem at HMP Whitemoor is the relationship between staff and the 120 Muslim inmates – almost a third of the total number of prisoners. According to inspectors, officers tended to treat Muslim prisoners as extremists and potential security risks, even though only eight of them had been convicted of terrorist offences. Officers expressed a “fear” that increasing numbers of prisoners were converting to Islam and being radicalised.

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Muslim inmates living in fear for their safety at high-security prison

Muslim prisoners, including some convicted terrorists, inside one of Britain’s biggest high security prisons feel so unsafe that they have sought sanctuary in the jail’s segregation unit for their own protection, the chief inspector of prisons discloses today. Anne Owers says that there have been serious incidents of “prisoner-on-prisoner” violence inside Frankland prison, near Durham, with black and ethnic minority inmates in general the target of attacks and Muslim prisoners in particular.

Owers says in her inspection report on the high security jail published today that some, but not all, of the Muslim inmates who have been attacked had been convicted of terrorism offences. Fourteen prisoners have been identified by the prison authorities as involved in racist activities, some for racially motivated offences and others with links to racist organisations. Owers also reports there has been a “serious incident” involving groups of black and ethnic minority prisoners and white prisoners.

Two high-profile terrorists, Dhiren Barot and Omar Khyam, were moved out of Frankland prison in March amid claims the jail had become “an extremely dangerous environment for ethnic minority prisoners”. Barot’s solicitor, Mudassar Arani, told the high court that boiling water and oil had been thrown over Barot last July and he had spent a week in hospital. The prison inspectors report that when they surveyed inmates about their treatment by staff the responses by black and ethnic minority prisoners were worse than those of white prisoners on a range of issues and they were also over-represented in all disciplinary procedures, including use of force, segregation and adjudications. Alan Travis reports.

Frankland jail: Muslim inmates living in fear for their safety at high-security prison

Muslim prisoners, including some convicted terrorists, inside one of Britain’s biggest high security prisons feel so unsafe that they have sought sanctuary in the jail’s segregation unit for their own protection, the chief inspector of prisons discloses today. Anne Owers says that there have been serious incidents of “prisoner-on-prisoner” violence inside Frankland prison, near Durham, with black and ethnic minority inmates in general the target of attacks and Muslim prisoners in particular. Owers says in her inspection report on the high security jail published today that some, but not all, of the Muslim inmates who have been attacked had been convicted of terrorism offences. Fourteen prisoners have been identified by the prison authorities as involved in racist activities, some for racially motivated offences and others with links to racist organisations. Owers also reports there has been a “serious incident” involving groups of black and ethnic minority prisoners and white prisoners. Two high-profile terrorists, Dhiren Barot and Omar Khyam, were moved out of Frankland prison in March amid claims the jail had become “an extremely dangerous environment for ethnic minority prisoners”. Barot’s solicitor, Mudassar Arani, told the high court that boiling water and oil had been thrown over Barot last July and he had spent a week in hospital. The prison inspectors report that when they surveyed inmates about their treatment by staff the responses by black and ethnic minority prisoners were worse than those of white prisoners on a range of issues and they were also over-represented in all disciplinary procedures, including use of force, segregation and adjudications. Alan Travis reports.

Jail staff failing to counter extremism, warns inspector

Inadequately trained staff inside Belmarsh high security prison are failing to challenge extremism and are in danger of feeding radicalisation by alienating Muslim inmates, the chief inspector of prisons has warned. Anne Owers said staff at the London jail, which holds nearly 200 Muslims, face a danger of fuelling anti-western attitudes. Independent prison monitoring boards have also warned of the need to understand the disruptive impact of terrorist prisoners inside prisons. The report said nearly two-thirds of Muslim inmates had felt unsafe and victimised by staff, with fewer than half believing staff treated them with respect. While 70 per cent of non-Muslim prisoners said they could turn to a member of staff, this was the case for only 40 per cent of Muslim inmates.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=29588ABB38AC8BF8EB585D29&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

No Arabic staff at UK jail ‘creating risks’

A lack of Muslim and Arabic-speaking staff at a British jail that detains terrorism suspects is creating a security risk because they could not understand what inmates were discussing, a government report has revealed. Despite staff working at Long Lartin prison’s specialist terrorism unit insisting such culture training was essential, authorities had yet to introduce any sufficient education, a report by the prisons’ chief inspector found. Anne Owers’ report said that while managers had “taken steps to raise cultural awareness” – with visits to mosques and funding Arabic lessons – it was a small step “given the size of the cultural and language gaps”. The report concluded that security and care was balanced, but that could change because of the lack of Arabic-speaking and Muslim officers. The specialist unit at the Worcestershire prison was created in May 2005 and can hold up to 20 detainees who have not been charged with offences, but are believed to be “involved in terrorist international activity and are said to be a threat to national security”.