Staff unable to handle prison’s Muslims, says report

    There are now so many Muslims at one of Britain’s top-security jails that religious extremists have been able to form gangs inside that staff are ill-equipped to deal with, according to a confidential report. The issue was raised in an internal review into Whitemoor prison, near March, Cambridgeshire, where 28 per cent of the 500 inmates are Muslim. The independent charity the Howard League for Penal Reform, which obtained a leaked copy of the report, said the inquiry indicated “extremely disturbing” problems that needed urgent attention. The report, carried out by a 14-strong team from the Prison Service’s directorate of high security, was commissioned by Whitemoor governor Steve Rodford in January after five prisoners committed suicide at the jail between November 2006 and December 2007. One key finding in the report was that the “very high Muslim population” at Whitemoor appeared to be “leading to anxiety and apprehension among some staff”. The report added: “There is a danger of this leading to hostility and Islamophobia if it is not addressed.” It also said: “There was much talk around the establishment about _the Muslims’. Some staff perceived the situation at Whitemoor had resulted in Muslim prisoners becoming more of a gang than a religious group. “The sheer numbers, coupled with a lack of awareness among staff, appeared to be engendering fear and handing control to the prisoners.”

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