UK's Muslim prison population 'doubles' in ten years

UK's Muslim prison population 'doubles' in ten years
A UK government review has found that Muslims and ethnic minorities make up a 'disproportionate' section of England and Wales' prison population.
2 min read
16 November, 2016
A young Muslim prisoner talks with a prison officer in Wandsworth Prison [Corbis News]
The number of Muslims in UK prisons has doubled in the last decade, a new Parliamentary report has found, with concerns about imbalanced demographics among convicts.

Tottenham MP David Lammy led the review that concluded that Black, Asian and other minority groups (BAME) were "disproportionately" represented in the English and Welsh criminal justice system.

"Some groups - such as the Muslim population - do not fall within one ethnic category - but we know that the number of Muslims in our prisons has nearly doubled in the last decade," said Lammy, in an open letter to the prime minister.

The review was set up in January 2016 by the previous Prime Minister David Cameron who wanted to investigate why more minorities were being sent to prison than others.

"If you're black, you're more likely to be in a prison cell than studying at a top university. And if you're black, it seems you're more likely to be sentenced to custody for a crime than if you're white,” said Cameron.

Some NGO's have welcomed the findings of the report, which many feel to be under-reported in the national media.

"The rise in the Muslim prison population makes for sensationalist headlines but how defendants end up there, how rehabilitation can be improved to cut reoffending rates, and the correlation between deprivation and crime are of comparably lesser interest," said Shazad Amin, CEO of the Muslim advocacy NGO, MEND.

Many experts argue that the government's current "Prevent strategy" - aimed at identifying young people vulnerable to recruitment from terrorist, crime or extremist groups - is behind the incarceration of large numbers of young Muslims.

The psychological research behind this policy was criticised however in an open letter, signed by 140 academics in September.

"We are concerned with the implementation of 'radicalisation' policies within the UK Prevent Strategy, internationally referred to as countering violence extremism," the academics said, in a letter led by author, Karen Armstrong.

The Lammy review full report is expected in Spring 2017.