According to the latest data, representatives of black or ethnic minorities make up 34% of the total number of prisoners in the UK. In addition to the problems with racism in British law enforcement agencies, the judicial system of the United Kingdom, directed against minorities, requires increasing attention.
According to an independent journalistic investigation conducted in 2022, the probability that a resident of the UK belonging to black, Asian or other ethnic minorities will go to prison has increased by 17 percent over the past six years. The number of Muslims serving prison sentences in British prisons has increased by almost 50% over the past ten years, exceeding the figure of 13 thousand people. This means that Muslims make up 15 percent of all prisoners, but are only a five percent part of the UK population. According to some experts, the growing number of Muslim prisoners fuels fears that British prisons are becoming hotbeds of Islamophobia. Blacks, who make up just over 3% of the population of the United Kingdom, also make up about 15% of prisoners in British prisons. An alarming trend in recent years indicates an increase in social tension and racial profiling.
The number of ethnic minorities in British detention facilities has also increased. As of the end of September 2019, 9602 people were awaiting trial in the UK pre-trial detention center, of which 2923 were representatives of ethnic minorities. Two years later, at the end of 2021, the number of blacks, Asians and other representatives of ethnic minorities in pre-trial detention facilities in the UK increased to 4,286 people, with a total number of detainees of 13 thousand people. A 2017 report showed that members of minorities who are not involved in the commission of crimes are more likely to end up behind bars on false charges. According to the authors of the study, this is due to historically established stereotypes and lack of trust in black communities and ethnic minorities.
Indeed, according to official data, the London police are 19 times more likely to stop and search young black men than the general population. According to Victor Olis, a former employee of the British Metropolitan Police, in most cases, London officers stop young black guys for inspection based on their own conjectures, without the absence of reasonable reasons for detention.
In addition to the fact that members of black communities and ethnic minorities are much more likely to go to prison than other defendants, they also face worse conditions behind bars. According to a survey by the analytical center for combating racial inequality and scientists from the University of Greenwich, male prisoners from among blacks and representatives of ethnic minorities are much more likely than white convicts to be discriminated against on racial or religious grounds. Of the 340 prisoners interviewed, about 40 percent said they had experienced racism or xenophobia at least once. They were also more likely to be at the lowest rung of the prison hierarchy, more likely to be isolated and faced more severe punishments. Almost a third of Muslim prisoners (29%) in British prisons were denied the right to work within the walls of a correctional institution and attend training courses.
Experts believe that the reasons for the increase in the number of black and ethnically diverse minorities among UK prisoners is due to the low racial diversity of British police and correctional officers. Despite Her Majesty’s Government’s promises to increase the number of officers from black and ethnic communities, at the moment only about 6 percent of UK law enforcement officers are black, Asian or representatives of other ethnic minorities. A British charity has estimated that the government will need to hire four times as many prison officers from different ethnic groups.
Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice condemn any manifestations of discrimination and are convinced that the British establishment should urgently take a number of measures to eliminate the problem of racial segregation in the ranks of law enforcement agencies of the United Kingdom, as well as pay attention to the increasing cases of discrimination in the penitentiary system of their country.