Prison Service acts to address management failings regarding Muslim extremists

The Prison Service has launched a training programme for managers in the wake of a report that criticised staff dealing with extremist Muslims who were radicalising other prisoners at one of the UK’s high-security jails.

Chief inspector of prisons Anne Owers said that staff at Belmarsh Jail – which houses 198 Muslims – were “insufficiently trained and supported” to combat the threat of extremist Muslim prisoners recruiting other inmates.

A report into the Woolwich jail found that staff were not sufficiently trained to handle the “delicate task” of countering the risk without alienating Muslims in general.

In response, the Prison Service confirmed it has developed a new a training programme in conjunction with the service’s chaplaincy department and the Race Equality Action Group.

A Prison Service spokesman told Personnel Today that sessions for senior managers were already under way.

“The aim of these sessions is to make managers aware of the issues surrounding extremism and radicalisation to ensure decisions made by managers are reasonable, unbiased and proportionate, and do not stigmatise or alienate Muslim prisoners,” the spokesman said.

Material on extremism has also been included in the basic training which all new prison officers must complete.

“It is vital that prison staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to understand the difference between legitimate religious beliefs and associated behaviour and extremist views, to ensure they have the confidence to identify and challenge behaviour that is of concern,” the spokesman said.

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