Race equality adviser speaks out about “disturbing” allegations

    The first race equality adviser to the Prison Service has told
    the Zahid Mubarek inquiry that she heard “disturbing”
    allegations of serious violence against black and ethnic minority
    prisoners, an inquiry has heard, writes Maria
    Ahmed.

    Judy Clements, who advised the Prison Service between 1999 and
    2003, told the public inquiry into Mubarek’s death that
    prison staff and management were in “complete denial”
    of issues relating to racism in a number of institutions.

    She also said there was a “disparity” among prison
    staff in reporting racist matters.

    Mubarek was killed by his racist cellmate Robert Stewart at
    Feltham Young Offender Institution in March 2000.

    Clements told the inquiry that she recalled incidents where
    black prisoners complained about being moved to segregation while
    white prisoners were left “to continue as normal”
    following alleged fights.

    She said: ”When it came to perceived racism at the hands
    of prison staff, it was felt that it was an utter waste of time
    trying to complain because there was a perception that, for
    example, race relations liaison officers would collude with their
    colleagues.”

    Clements also said the Prison Officer’s Association would
    occasionally refuse to meet her when she visited institutions.

    She referred to a case in London [not Feltham] where there were
    “significant challenges” facing POA members “with
    regard to allegations of inappropriate behaviour and racism, and
    lots of complaints”.

    Clements told the inquiry: “It was my perception that they
    might have found it
    uncomfortable to meet with me because I had been very
    critical”.

    She added:” When Zahid was killed…it was more than a
    wake-up call. I think the question was: could we have been so
    blind?”

    The inquiry continues.

     

     

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