Prison service racism attacked

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The Independent Online
RACIST attitudes are prevalent in the prison service, which is failing to attract or promote black staff, according to a report published today, writes Adam Sage.

The report, by Robin Alfred for the Prison Reform Trust, says that only a 'fraction' of prison staff are black, despite figures which show that ethnic minorities make up about 4.5 per cent of the population. The imbalance is even more marked when contrasted with the proportion of prisoners from ethnic minorities - about 15 per cent.

'A final example of institutional racism is the pattern of career development,' the report continues. 'While monitored information is not available, there is only one black at governor grade, and very few principal or senior officers.'

Racism is also directed at prisoners. A prisons' supervisor is quoted as saying: 'You can't have them doing this job. It would be different . . . if it was a banana factory I was running here - then it would be right up their street.' A black officer told Mr Alfred: 'Officers calling inmates 'niggers, coons' . . . you think that's gone out of the window? Well, it hasn't'

The report says that racial discrimination by prison officers should become a disciplinary offence, with black officers encouraged to report colleages who make racist comments.

Recruitment boards should be multi-racial, and race-relations policies should be monitored. 'If these recommendations were introduced and concerted efforts made to implement them throughout the prison service, the scandal of racism could cease to exist in the prison system.'