Muslim prisoners have experienced racism by prison officers
since the London terrorist bombings, the Zahid Mubarek inquiry has
heard, writes Maria Ahmed.
Inmates from prisons across London told a focus group as part of
the inquiry that racism came “predominantly” from
officers rather than other prisoners, and cited one alleged
incident where officers kicked a Muslim inmate “up the
backside” as he prayed.
The inquiry also heard of the case of an Asian male prisoner
whose repeated requests for moving cell were “ignored”
when he was being threatened by an “openly racist”
The inmates from adult prisons and young offender institutions
who took part in the focus group also raised concerns over
officers’ “sadistic” behaviour and alleged that
some officers “deliberately played off prisoners against each
An Asian inmate claimed to have heard officers encouraging one
prisoner to beat up another prisoner on three separate
Officers were generally perceived by inmates as
“insensitive” and “lazy” and in some cases
their motives were seen as “sinister.”
The inquiry also heard that “poor” decisions on the
pairing of cell-mates were “widespread,” including a
number of cases where inmates were made to share cells with people
with mental health problems.
The focus group findings emerged this week as the inquiry began
a series of six seminars examining issues including racism and risk
The inquiry, which began last year, is examining how young
offender Zahid Mubarek, 19, came to be murdered by his racist
cellmate Robert Stewart, then also 19, at Feltham YOI in 2000.
The first seminar held yesterday in London examined how
information-sharing could be improved in the Prison Service.
The seminars form the last part of the inquiry and a final
report will go to the Home Secretary early next year.
For more information:-
For background articles on the Zahid Mubarek case
For the Bigger Picture on the first phase of the Zahid Mubarek