Young Muslims on Trial

Introduction

Our second report, Young Muslims on Trial – a study on the impact of Islamaphobia on criminal justice decision making. involved interviews with a range of bodies and agencies including representatives and employees of:

 

The report was funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust as part of the work of its Transition to Adulthood (T2A) programme and the Young Review.  The Young Review, published in December 2014, identified an over-representation and a disparity in both treatment and outcome for young African, Caribbean, mixed origin and Muslim men at every stage of the criminal justice process. The report described the treatment of Muslim prisoners as being the result of “at best a lack of cultural competence and at worst prejudice and racist stereotyping.”

The Need 

Muslim communities make up 5% of the population in England and Wales, but 15% of those in prison, a significant rise in the past 10 years. Adequate data as to the increase or what their treatments is

 

Despite the fact that only 1% of Muslim prisoners are convicted for terrorist related offences the dominant attitude to Muslims by prison authorities focuses on them as being or having the potential to become radicalised. There is very little research as to the experiences and outcomes of Muslim men who have been through the criminal justice system.

 

The Ministry of Justice is also unable to explain the rise in figures because there is a lack of data based on religion.

What We Did 

In support of recommendations from The Young Review that a range of practical and powerful tools be developed for future providers to intervene early and reverse this disproportionality, Barrow Cadbury commissioned Maslaha to undergo a scoping exercise to ascertain how criminal justice professionals can be more effective in responding to offending by young Muslim men who come into contact with the criminal justice system (CJS.)

 

 

We conducted a range of interviews with:

 

  • Probation services

  • Magistrates’ Association

  • The Law Society

  • Criminologists

  • Regional police forces

  • Police and Crime Commissioners (PCC) and 

  • Voluntary sector organisations and projects working with young black and/or Muslim men in the CJS.

 

This report summarises themes emerging in the interviews, followed by a series of recommendations proposing interventions which we believe could lead to criminal justice professionals having a broader understanding of a young Muslim’s life. 

 

The report highlights a number of findings including:

  • The constant association of Islam with radicalisation been through interviews with many Muslim prisoners showed that religion was a form of support and a way to rebuild your life

  • The drive to speed up processes within the criminal justice system such as pre-sentence reports, means the needs of the most vulnerable are not picked up, nor are the cultural and religious needs understood

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