Prison Service lined up for change after inquiry

The government has published its full response to the extensive report into the death of Asian teenager Zahid Mubarek.

Mubarek was beaten to death by his racist cell mate Robert Stewart at Feltham Young Offenders Institution in 2000.

The inquiry into his death made 88 wide-ranging recommendations relating to changes in systems, pro­cesses and staff training within the Prison Service.

The Prison Officer Entry Level Training programme will now be changed from April 2007 to focus on better interpersonal skills for officers and improved ability to gain respect from inmates.

The report also recommended that ex-offenders should be used to give trainees an insight into prison life. The government said this required “further consideration”, with a feasibility study to be completed by the end of the year.

The government also accepted that the service’s whistleblowing policy should be better communicated so staff are reassured they can get access to an independent official. Improvements in diversity training, mental health awareness and how complaints of racism are investigated have all been accepted.

But the government rejected the recommendation that it should change the law to add prisons to the list of bodies required to publish race equality schemes under the Race Relations Act.

Baroness Scotland, minister for criminal justice and offender management, said: “Institutional racism is being tackled through the Prison Service’s comprehensive race equality policy, which includes impact assessments of all functions and policies, in accordance with our obligations under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.”

The Home Office is taking steps to ensure the recommendations it has accepted will apply to “contracted-out establishments” – the 11 prisons run by private firms.

Prison staff have learned lessons


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