HMP Whitemoor has largest Muslim population
- Credit: Archant
HMP Whitemoor is first UK jail to have half Muslim population
There are more Muslim prisoners at HMP Whitemoor than in any other UK jail, a recent report has revealed.
More than half the inmates in the main wings are Muslim and form the biggest ‘power bloc’ in the high security prison.
The Independent Monitoring Board’s annual report states that many of the prisoners and staff found the Muslim presence ‘overwhelming’ and that discipline and therefore safety, were being put at risk.
The report went on to explain: “There are some intimidating heavy players among the Muslim population who appear to be orchestrating prison power dynamics rather than propagating or following the faith.
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“Many physically powerful prisoners re-established their outside identities as leaders in the prison and use their newly acquired faith status as a tool for establishing influence.”
Around 56 per cent of the Muslim group are aged between 22 and 39 and it is believed to be the highest proportion of Muslims ever recorded in a British jail.
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The report stated that some ‘faith awareness training’ was being carried out, but the religious gulf within the jail had been underestimated.
Problems were also highlighted around the prison’s use of segregation.
Prison rules enable a governor to arrange for a prisoner to be segregated - kept away from other inmates - for up to 72 hours before seeking authorisation from the secretary of state.
Inmates can be segregated if they are deemed to be in danger, to prevent danger to other prisoners or as punishment for disruptive behaviour.
A high-profile terrorist inmate recently won a legal challenge at the UK’s highest court against his segregation at Whitemoor.
Kamel Bourgass, an Algerian who is serving 17 years for conspiracy to commit public nuisance by using poisons or explosives in relation to the 2002 Ricin terrorist plot, was segregated for two and a half years.
The Supreme Court ruled in July his confinement, for periods or more than a month, was unlawful beyond the initial 72-hour period.
The full report for 2015 can be viewed at www.imb.org.uk