Race discrimination inquiry puts Brixton prison in dock

Ethnic minority staff at Brixton prison suffered racial harassment and discrimination at the hands of white colleagues, an internal investigation into race relations at the jail has found.

The report says black and Asian officers complained of bullying and discrimination when they tried for promotion.

The inquiry team, commissioned by the Director General of the Prison Service Martin Narey, branded the prison institutionally racist after finding "much evidence of administrative failure to provide an appropriate professional service to staff… from minority ethnic backgrounds".

During its inquiry in May, the team found that a small number of staff "sustained and promoted overtly racist behaviour". It also found that systems were not in place to deal with complaints.

According to a summary of the investigators’ report, which has been passed on to the Commission for Racial Equality, "Many minority ethnic staff alleged they had been victims of harassment by their white peers and managers. These included allegations of racial discrimination during promotion boards that some staff claimed had led to resignations and transfer applications from many of their colleagues."

Allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment reported to the inquiry team are being investigated separately. One report alleged that an officer physically assaulted a junior governor after refusing to carry out her orders.

The main body of the report has not been published because of several allegations made against named prison officers who are the subject of another internal investigation.

More than 80 recommendations are made in the report including the implementation of a robust race relations action plan for the immediate and medium term, addressing outstanding grievances among staff, and a staff support network for minority ethnic officers.

Narey said, "Allegations of offensive treatment were made by staff at the prison. Each allegation is being thoroughly investigated."

An action plan has been drawn up in response to the investigation which includes the introduction of race relations training for all employees as well as a staff support network for ethnic minority officers.


By Lisa Bratby

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