Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

Prisons have come a considerable distance in meeting the religious needs of Muslims, but are not yet effectively managing a complex and multi-dimensional population, said Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, publishing a thematic report, Muslim prisoners’ experiences.

HM Inspectorate of Prisons is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.

Muslims in prison are not a homogenous group. They may be Asian, black, mixed-race or white; some are birth Muslims while others have converted. One of their main grievances was that staff tended to think of them as a group, rather than individuals, and too often through the lens of extremism and terrorism, though fewer than 1% of the 10,300 Muslims in prison are there because of terrorist-related offences.

This thematic report is based on in-depth interviews with 164 Muslim prisoners in eight establishments, examination of their wing history sheets and interviews with Muslim chaplains there.

Evidence has also been taken from an analysis of 85 inspection reports and 272 interviews during routine inspections with prisoners about their perceptions of safety. The findings from over 9,000 prisoner surveys (12% completed by Muslims) were also analysed to obtain a better understanding of prisoners’ perceptions and the relative importance of religion and ethnic identity.

Muslim prisoners reported more negatively than other prisoners on their experience, particularly their safety and relationship with staff.

More positively, Muslims were more likely than non-Muslims to report that their faith needs were met, reflecting the strengthened role of Muslim chaplains.

A pervasive theme was the lack of support and training available to staff, outside briefings relating to violent extremism and radicalisation. This meant staff could either back off from confronting challenging behaviour or challenge inappropriately.

The report found that:

  • race and ethnicity were important factors: white Muslims felt most positive, while black and mixed heritage Muslims were least positive, and in general more alienated from staff
  •  across all ethnic groups, Muslims reported more negatively than non-Muslims
  • faith played a central role in Muslim prisoners’ lives, much more so than prisons often recognised, and could have a positive and rehabilitative role;
  • staff were often suspicious of religious observance, particularly conversion or reversion, although some converts had mixed motives which could include perceived benefits or protection within a group;
  • chaplains often lacked the time to provide support and teaching, particularly to converts: a group that could be more easily misled; and sometimes lacked the trust of alienated prisoners.

Chief Inspector Anne Owers said:

"It would be naïve to deny that there are, within the prison population, Muslims who hold radical extremist views, or who may be attracted to them for a variety of reasons. But that does not argue for a blanket security-led approach to Muslim prisoners in general. The National Offender Management Service must develop a strategy, with support  and training, for effective staff engagement with Muslims as individual prisoners with specific risks and needs, rather than as part of a separate and troubling group.
"Without that, there is a real risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy: that the prison experience will create or entrench alienation and disaffection, so that prisons release into the community young men who are more likely to offend, or even embrace extremism."