Category: Prisons

Lammy Review

My Lords, 41% of children in prisons are from the BAME community, and a large number of them are Muslims. About 15% of prisoners are Muslims, and in London, the figure is 27%. Some of those Muslims have been victimised by the staff. The custodial sentences imposed on those from BAME communities can be up to 10 years longer than those applied to white people—several lawyers have said this to me. There is an appalling lack of diversity in our judiciary, from the magistrates’ courts to the Supreme Court. Only 7% of judges are from BAME communities, and the figure for magistrates is 12%. Stop and search in BAME communities has risen by 69% for the last five years. I have been stopped by police for allegedly using a phone, which was not so. A sergeant then turned up and said that if there was any difference of opinion between me and his officer, he would believe the officer. I was appalled by the closing of ranks. I believe that I was picked upon because I was driving a Bentley coupé with a personalised number plate. Can the Minister comment on my points?

 

Link to full debate on Hansard. 

Prisons: Howard League Commission

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, for securing this debate. The growing prison population and further increases in the number of offenders who return to custody are complex issues that require a multifaceted solution. It is encouraging to see that the Howard League has produced a thorough and informative account of the problems facing our prisons today-and the possible solutions.

The commission’s research shows that there has been a marked rise in the number of ethnic-minority prisoners, especially Muslims, compared to a lower increase in the number of white inmates. It goes on to reveal that the number of Muslim prisoners has doubled over the past 10 years and now stands at nearly 10,000 persons. This is particularly disturbing as Muslims account for 3 per cent of the total population in Britain but make up almost 11 per cent of the prison population. Why has this unacceptable situation arisen and what remedial action will be taken to address this alarming trend?

The annual report by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons draws attention to the fact that approximately one quarter of Muslim prisoners said they felt unsafe. More than 30 per cent stated that they had been subjected to bullying by prison staff. I acknowledge the reality that prison staff do a tremendously difficult job. However, any type of bullying is unacceptable. Will the Minister be forthcoming in revealing what measures the Government will take to remedy this situation?

A survey by the Muslim Youth Helpline highlighted that 63 per cent of reoffenders felt that they did not have the help they needed upon leaving prison. Some 82 per cent stated that faith-based support networks in the community would have prevented them returning to crime. It is therefore important to encourage and increase the number of prison volunteers from all faiths, while recognising that there is an important role to be played by religious leaders in our communities. Does the Minister agree that a greater emphasis should be placed on helping communities to develop faith-based projects that specifically target offenders?

The commission’s research shows that between 2004 and 2008 the number of foreign national prisoners rose by 29 per cent. I believe that those who enter our country and breach our laws have lost their right to a place in all areas of British society. We should therefore aim to speed up the deportation of foreign national prisoners before the end of their sentences, and extend automatic deportation to prisoners from non-EU countries who are serving sentences of less than one year.

There is a correlation between overcrowded prisons and the number of inmates who are committing suicide. This tragic state of affairs calls for greater attention concerning the mental health of inmates as well as their overall well-being. Prison is a deplorable sanction for young people, and should be reserved for only the most serious youth offenders. This view reiterates the ardent belief that child welfare is paramount to reducing youth crime and curbing reoffending rates. Our justice system should be fundamentally based on the principles of enforcing punishment and educating prisoners. Investments made in crime prevention measures will pay dividends in efforts to counter reoffending.

Prisoners: Muslims

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

 

Whether there is evidence that radicalisation is occurring among Muslim prisoners and, if so, what action has been taken to reduce its incidence.

 

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We recognise the risk of radicalisation in prisons, just as there are risks in the wider community. The National Offender Management Service is working closely with partner agencies to tackle all forms of extremism. Its programme of work includes gathering intelligence and establishing a clear national picture of the risk; training and awareness-raising for staff; support for Muslim chaplains in their work with those vulnerable to radicalisation; and work to research and develop appropriate interventions.

 

 

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

 

How many Muslim inmates are serving prison sentences for (a) violent crimes, (b) robbery, (c) sexual offences, (d) theft, and (e) terrorist offences; and what percentages of the Muslim prison population they represent.

 

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The table below shows, at the end of April 2008, for prisons in England and Wales, the total number of immediate custodial sentenced Muslim prisoners by offence group, and the corresponding proportions of the total Muslim prison population that these represent.

 

Muslims

Percentage of total Muslim prison population

Total prison population

9,496

100%

of which

   

Sentenced Muslim prison population

7,340

77%

Violence against the person

1,999

21%

Sexual offences

649

7%

Robbery

1,200

13%

Burglary

415

4%

Fraud and forgery

422

4%

Drug offences

1,659

17%

Motoring offences

129

1%

Other offences

596

6%

Offence not recorded

24

0%

 

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

 

The Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Office are currently working with the National Co-ordinator for Terrorist Investigations to improve the quality of data relating to those convicted under terrorist legislation and those convicted under other legislation but following a terrorist investigation. As soon as this is complete, a statistical bulletin to cover information on arrests and convictions will be published. For this reason, it is not possible to provide the specific data to answer part (e) of this Question.

 

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

 

On the most recent date for which figures are available, how many Muslim inmates were (a) on remand, and (b) serving a prison sentence; and what percentages of the prison population they represent.

 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): At the end of April 2008, in prisons in England and Wales, the number of Muslim prisoners on remand (untried or convicted unsentenced) was 1,662, and the number of Muslim prisoners under immediate custodial sentence was 7,340. These represent 2 per cent and 9 per cent respectively of the total prison population (82,319).

 

These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large-scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

 

 

 

Prisons: Chaplains

Lord Sheikh asked Her Majesty’s Government:

 

 

Which prison establishments in England and Wales do not have a full-time Imam as part of the chaplaincy; and what are their plans to improve access to Islamic chaplaincy services within prisons.

 

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): There are currently 34 prisons in England and Wales with full-time Muslim chaplains.

 

 

Of those that do not have a full-time Muslim chaplain, the following prisons have part-time Muslim chaplains or Muslim chaplains appointed on a sessional basis.

 

 

Those with part-time Muslim chaplains:

Bedford, Blundeston, Brinsford, Buckley Hall, Cardiff, Chelmsford, Coldingly, Doncaster, Edmunds Hill, Elmley, Gartree, Grendon/Springhill, Guys Marsh, Hindley, Holloway, Huntercombe, Kennet, Kirkham, Leeds, Leicester, Lindholme, Lowdham Grange, Moorland, Norwich, Nottingham, Parkhurst, Peterborough, Rye Hill, Shrewsbury, Standford Hill, Stocken, The Verne, Wakefield, Wealstun, Wellingborough, Wymott.

 

 

Those with sessional Muslim chaplains:

Acklington, Albany, Altcourse, Ashfield, Ashwell, Askham, Aylesbury, Blantyre House, Bristol, Brockhill, Bronzefield, Bullwood Hall, Camp Hill, Canterbury, Castington, Channings Wood, Cookham Wood, Dartmoor, Deerbolt, Dorchester, Downview, Drake Hall, East Sutton Park, Eastwood Park, Erlestoke, Exeter, Ford, Forest Bank, Foston Hall, Garth, Gloucester, Haslar, Haverigg, Hewell Grange, Hollesley Bay, Holme House, Hull, Kingston, Kirklevington, Lancaster, Lancaster Farms, Latchmere House, Lewes, Leyhill, Littlehey, Low Newton, Maidstone, Morton Hall, New Hall, North Sea Camp, Northallerton, Parc, Preston, Reading, Send, Shepton Mallet, Stafford, Styal, Sudbury, Swansea, Thorn Cross, Usk/Prescoed, Warren Hill, Wayland, Werrington, Wetherby, Whatton, Winchester, Wolds.

 

 

All prisons have multi-faith chaplaincy teams to meet the needs of the prison. Needs will vary over time and depend on a range of factors, including the make-up of the prison population. We are looking at this time to ensure in particular that all prisons have appropriate provision for Muslim chaplains in view of the numbers of Muslim prisoners, and the significant additional role that Muslim chaplains have in combating potential extremist views by providing proper Islamic teaching and classes. Work is under way to strengthen provision so that the service can ensure it is maximising this resource.