Asian offenders most likely to experience racism

Asian prisoners, particularly young offenders, are more likely than any other racial group to report experiencing racist bullying in prison, particularly from other prisoners, a new report from Anne Owers, chief inspector of prisons has found.

The findings are “important in view of the Mubarek murder,” notes the report.

A significant proportion of Asian inmates in all prisons including 52 per cent of young offenders felt unsafe. Young black men in particular reported that most staff did not treat them with respect. Black men were more likely to claim they were victimised by staff, rather than other prisoners.

Black and Asian prisoners reported poorer experiences than white prisoners and felt their needs were not being met.

Among the report’s key recommendations are:

* More training for managers and staff – race training for front line staff has been reduced; 

* Stronger leadership and management within prisons; 

* Prison governors to support and actively seek the views of black and Asian staff; and to instigate formal schemes to assist their promotion;

* Improvement in monitoring, complaints and consultation with prisoners 

The report is described as a “review rather than an inspection” of race in prisons. Prisons are not named, except to highlight good practice, and neither are prisoners giving evidence.

 Anne Owers said:

“Our principal finding is that there was no shared understanding of race issues within prisons: instead, there was a series of parallel worlds, inhabited by different groups of staff and prisoners with widely divergent views and experiences.

“We have serious concern about the training now available for governors, and for the staff who need to implement change. Without a specific and mandatory focus on race awareness, it is unlikely that managers or staff will be sufficiently equipped to break down the borders of the parallel worlds we describe here.

The report is based on surveys of 5,500 prisoners of all racial groups including men, women, young offenders and juveniles, plus interviews with staff and governors.

Parallel Worlds: A thematic review of race relations in prisons available at

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