Muslims Disproportionately Make up Nearly Fifth of All Prisoners in Britain

2024-03-20 11:58:30

Muslims make up nearly a fifth of all prisoners in England and Wales as of September of last year, with 15,594 inmates belonging to the Islamic faith, government data has revealed.

While Muslims only make up around 6.5 per cent of the British population overall, they account for around 18 per cent of the prison population according to data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), The Telegraph reports.

In comparison, Christians made up the largest religious group in prisons at 45 per cent, however, according to the 2021 Census, Christians represented 46 per cent of the population of England and Wales, meaning that as a group, people who profess to be Christian are incarcerated broadly proportionately.

Meanwhile, those who were not affiliated with any religious group comprised 31 per cent of the prison population, compared to 37 per cent of the population as a whole.

The Ministry of Justice figures also revealed that white people made up a disproportionate number of Muslim inmates, with 19.9 per cent of Islamic prisoners, or 3,096, being recorded as white. This is compared to white people making up just 7.8 per cent of the Muslim community in the UK.

This comes in contrast to 35 per cent (5,489) of Muslim prisoners being recorded as being “Asian or Asian British” and 27 per cent (4,212) were recorded as “Black or Black British”, while the remainder were either unrecorded or were of mixed background.

The strikingly high percentage of white Muslims within the prison population has been attributed by some as a result of conversions out of fear, with Muslims representing a powerful force within many British prisons.

Former Prison Governor Ian Acheson, who conducted a review of Islamist extremism in prisons for the MoJ, said: “There’s strong evidence that people convert as a pragmatic response to who controls power and space in our prisons.

“This seems to be the case in high-security prisons, in particular, where safety is at a premium and there are also large numbers of violent young men entering custody searching for meaning and belonging. So Islam in this case has gang characteristics”.

Acheson said that while authentic conversions could not be ruled out, he said it was important for frontline prison staff to not act out of fear of being accused of racism or direct intimidation tactics by prison gangs.

Another review into Islam in prisons, by government advisor Colin Bloom found last year that “failure to identify as a Muslim meant that at best the new prisoner would be denied ‘protection’ from the dominant Muslim gang on that wing, or at worst the new prisoner would be subjected to violence and intimidation from that same gang”.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman denied that the disproportionate white Muslim population was a result of forced conversions, saying: “Attributing these figures to the influence of Muslim gangs would be misleading and based on wholly anecdotal evidence. Forced religious conversions are not tolerated in prisons.”

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Muslims Disproportionately Make up Nearly Fifth of All Prisoners in Britain


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