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Lack of training among prison staff fuels extremism’

PUBLISHED: 18:41 30 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:43 25 August 2010

A UNION leader has warned that prisoners are in danger of being radicalised by extreme Muslims due to poor staff training.

A UNION leader has warned that prisoners are in danger of being radicalised by extreme M uslims due to poor staff training.

Muslim inmates are being alienated in Belmarsh Prison, according to the latest report from the HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) published last month.

This poses a real danger that more young men will leave prison as extremists, according to Steve Gough, vice chair of the Prison Officers Association (POA).

Mr Gough said: "The staff at Belmarsh are telling us of major gang problems. Religious gangs are getting to be a real issue.

"Our staff get no training on radicalisation whatsoever. This is not a case of will you release radical prisoners - it's how many.

"Officers need full training and it can't wait because it might be the case that in five or 10 years all the Belmarshes of this world will start releasing these people.

"We cannot ignore the fact that the prison system already releases radicalised prisoners."

The HMIP report revealed prisons staff's inability to counter radicalisation without alienating Muslims in general.

The inspection last October found that in most ways the 910-capacity prison was generally improving on previous poor reports.

However, a survey showed that 60 per cent of Belmarsh's 200 Muslim inmates feel they cannot turn to a member of staff for help, compared to 30 per cent of non-Muslim prisoners.

In comments from prisoners, one complained of his prayer mat being called a 'magic carpet' by staff, while another complained that some Muslims bully young black men into their groups.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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