More than a quarter of London’s prison population are Muslims, prompting urgent calls for an inquiry into what is happening in the justice system.
Official figures have revealed that record levels of Muslim people are serving jail sentences and that the numbers are still growing. Across England and Wales the proportion has risen from eight per cent a decade ago to 14 per cent now.
In London, the figure is an “astonishing” 27 per cent, which is more than double the 12 per cent of the capital’s population who are Muslim. In two prisons, Feltham and Isis, a third of the inmates were Muslim.
The data was obtained by Sadiq Khan, the lawyer and shadow justice secretary who is himself a Muslim. He told the Evening Standard that an inquiry was vital to explain why the increase is happening.
“What’s really worrying is the rise, year after year, in the number of Muslims behind bars,” he said, adding: “We need to know why that’s the case if we’re to stop this rising further, reduce crime and prevent people needlessly becoming victims.”
Half of the top 10 prisons with the highest Muslim populations are in London, including Belmarsh, where the percentage has risen since 2010 from 19 to 29 per cent, Brixton (24 per cent), Pentonville (28 per cent), Thameside (25 per cent) and Wormwood Scrubs (27 per cent).
Mr Khan accused the Government of sitting on its hands after a 2010 call by the Chief Inspector of Prisons for a National Strategy to deal with the growing numbers of Muslims behind bars.
He said: “Four years on and ministers have ignored this call. The Government is utterly clueless about what to do about this growing problem. This is a waste of human talent and a huge drain on the hard-pressed taxpayer.”
Higher offending rates is only one of many possible reasons why the prison population is higher for some groups of the population. Other explanations could be that Muslims are more frequently caught and prosecuted, or sentenced to longer prison terms compared with other offenders.
A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We have already implemented many of the recommendations from the 2010 report.”
courtesy: Evening Standard