Prison system still letting down young adults 14 years on from Zahid Mubarek’s murder, finds inspectorate

Review of recommendations made by inquiry into Mubarek murder finds 'no room for complacency'

Young adults and children are still being let down by the Prisons Service 14 years on from the racist murder of Zahid Mubarek, inspectors have warned.

A prisons inspectorate review, which follows up on recommendations from the 2006 inquiry into the the murder of 19-year-old Zahid at Feltham young offender institution, finds evidence of positive change across the prison system as a whole. But, among a series of concerns, it warned that outcomes for young adults – those aged 18-25 – were “not good enough”, in whatever type of establishment they are held.

Zahid was killed in March 2000 by his cellmate Robert Stewart, who had mental health problems and convictions for violence, and had previously expressed racist views. The subsequent inquiry by Mr Justice Keith found that the incident could have been prevented, and made 88 recommendations for improving policy and practice.

The prisons inspectorate review of progress, which was based on a series of inspections, found:

incarcerated young people and young adults at risk of self-harming are less likely to have access to peer support services than their adult counterparts;

  • young adults across all ethnic groups were less likely to report being treated with respect by staff than either children or adults, with Asian young adults particularly unlikely to do so;
  • risk assessment processes that might identify a prisoner who posed a risk to others are too often delayed or poorly completed;
  • too many prisoners still share cells designed for one, regardless of sentence status.

Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, said: “There was a real danger that the Keith Inquiry into Zahid Mubarek’s murder had become filed under ‘completed business’. This report shows that there is no room for such complacency and we hope this review will provide those responsible for the current inquiry with a clear and helpful reminder of why the lessons from the Keith Inquiry are still relevant today and why work is still urgently required to ensure those lessons continue to be understood, accepted and acted on.”

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