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Recommendations to tackle racist violence in the UK prisons still not in place

Substantial number of suggestions after Zahid Mubarek remains unimplemented 25 June 2009: Less than a week to go before the third anniversary of Zahid Mubarek inquiry, a government advisor has criticized the prison service for not adequately implementing recommendations to tackle racist violence in the UK prisons.

The inquiry was initiated after the 19-year-old was battered to death with a table leg allegedly by his racist cellmate in 2000.

Zahid was serving a three-month sentence at Feltham Young Offenders’ Institute for stealing razors and interfering with a car. He was murdered hours before he was due to be released. The Zahid Mubarek Inquiry said there had been a “bewildering catalogue of shortcomings” which led to the teenager’s tragic death.

Special advisor to the Inquiry Bobby Cummines says the possibility of a similar incident of violence could not be ruled out, the government implemented more than just 15 of the Inquiry’s 88 recommendations to the prison service.

Cummines is taking up the issue with prime minister Gordon Brown for improving conditions for inmates.

Quoting him, the Eastern Eye says the prison service “have got a long, long way to go. It’s not just open racism but covert racism. The Prison Service feels uncomfortable dealing with racism, they don’t know how to deal with abuse. They need to be less tolerant to it.”

As of now, Cummines runs The National Association of Ex- Offenders, and is on the Home Office’s Race Relations Board. He believes the prison service has addressed just some of the Inquiry’s recommendations.

Since Justice Keith made the recommendations, some progress has been made. But there is a culture of violence in prisons. The recommendations included mental health assessments for inmates, and linking the Police National Computer to prisons to share security information.

Statistically speaking, there were 850 serious assaults on prisoners in 2006-07. The number was 23 more than the previous year, according to the Prison Service Annual Report and Accounts.

A prison service spokeswoman, meanwhile, said a range of measures have been introduced since Mubarek’s death, including a national cell sharing risk assessment tool.

She said a violence reduction strategy was introduced, incorporating recommendations from the inquiry.

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