ONE IN FIVE YOUNG PRISONERS ARE MUSLIM, REPORT REVEALS
Chief inspector of prison Nick Hardwick reports that figure has risen from 13% in 2009-10
The proportion of offenders in youth jails who are Muslim is rising sharply and they now account for more than one-fifth of all inmates, the chief inspector of prisons has said. Nick Hardwick said the figure had risen from 13% in 2009-10 to 21% in 2011-12.
He said that while they were less likely to say they felt unsafe in youth jails and more likely to say they were treated with respect, they still felt they were treated significantly worse than non-Muslims.
“They reported that they were more likely to have been restrained, more likely to be victimised by staff and found it more difficult to stay in touch with friends and families,” says the chief inspector in a joint report with the Youth Justice Board.
Hardwick said the number of children and young inmates had continued to fall and stood at 1,543 youths aged 15 to 18.
He said this sustained decline had been apparent over the past four years, over which time numbers have fallen by more than a third, down from 2,365. As a result, 231 youth jail places have been removed, reducing the size of young offender institutes at Stoke Heath, New Hall and Cookham Wood.
But the chief inspector said that it might have been expected that the reduction in numbers would have led to significant improvements in this annual survey of perceptions of those in custody: “In fact, it is striking how little has changed and that may cast doubt on the assumption that as the population decreased, it would include a greater concentration of young people with a serious offence background and major problems.”
The survey of 925 young men and 25 young women confirms that almost a third of those in youth offender institutions had previously been in local authority care. The proportion of those who said they felt unsafe at some time in custody has risen from 27% last year to 32% this year.