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Prisons inspectorate raps Leeds prison over making Muslim woman remove headscarf in public

Prisons inspectorate raps Leeds prison over making Muslim woman remove headscarf in public

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday May 03 2016

The Mirror reports on the release of a report on an unannounced inspection of HMP Leeds by the Chief Inspector of Prisons.

The report, which was published late last week, assesses the treatment and conditions of those detained in prisons against four criteria: Safety, Respect, Purposeful activity and Resettlement.

The report is based on an unannounced inspection of Leeds prison and rates the prison against the four criteria drawing on a 2015 survey of prisoners at Leeds prison and comparing to a 2013 survey; A comparison within the 2015 survey between the responses of white prisoners and BME prisoners and a comparison within the 2015 survey between the responses of Muslim prisoners and non Muslim prisoners, alongside survey responses of prisoners with a disability.

The Mirror picks up on the section of the report which relates the experiences of a Muslim female and visitor search practices at the prison.

The paper notes the report’s observation that “Visitors were searched thoroughly and generally respectfully, but a Muslim woman was asked to remove her headscarf in public and toddlers were still routinely receiving a rubdown search.”

The report advances the recommendation, “Searching arrangements should be respectful and proportionate; Muslim women should not be asked to remove headscarves in public and babies and toddlers should only be searched when there is specific intelligence to indicate a risk.”

The prison report further notes, “The promotion of equality and diversity had seriously dipped in the previous year but was now returning to its previous good level.”

It notes, “Outcomes for prisoners were not sufficiently good against this healthy prison test,” adding that “Prisoners from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, Muslims, and those with disabilities were less positive about feeling safe than their respective counterparts. Over the general range of issues, however, the perceptions of these groups were on a par with and sometimes more positive than, white prisoners.”

On a subject that has attracted considerable negative coverage, the report assesses whether “prisoners are able to practise their religion fully and in safety” noting “Faith arrangements were good and chaplains were well integrated into prison life.”

The report puts forward 54 recommendations in total, including the recommendation on “respectful and proportionate” search procedures.

The full inspection report can be found here.


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