27% of the prison population are from BME groups, compared to 14% of the general population.
A July 2018 report by Runnymede and the Centre for Criminology at the University of Greenwich looks at disproportionality, safety and mental health in British prisons.
Further statistics showing the disproportional demographics of the prison population include:
- Gypsies, Roma and Irish Travellers represent just 0.1% of the population, but account for around 5% of the male prison population.
- Muslim individuals represent 5% of the population in the UK, but reflect almost three times that figure in the prison population.
On safety and wellbeing in prison, the report finds that:
- Around 344 people died in prison in 2016, the highest number since records began in 1978.
- A third of these deaths were self-inflicted.
- There are also racial disparities and racism in the way BME and Muslim prisoners experience the day-to-day life of the prison regime.
- Whereas prison can provide rehabilitation opportunities, it is currently ‘punishment upon punishment’.
The report concludes:
Much work is needed to reform our prisons. We argue that this includes a fundamental re-thinking of the purpose of imprisonment and what we hope to achieve by sending different people to prison.