13 December 2022

HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ report on the experiences of Black men and staff in prison highlights the persistence of anti-Black racism in the prison service.

INQUEST is deeply troubled by inspectors’ findings on the: 

  • Poor processes within prisons to report racial discrimination 
  • Stereotyping of Black prisoners, particularly as gang members
  • Disproportionate use of segregation and use of force against Black prisoners 
  • General dismissal of complaints of racism as ‘playing the race card’  

Jessica Pandian, Policy and Research Officer at INQUEST and author of the recent INQUEST report on deaths of racialised people in prison, said:  

“The incidents of racism detailed in the Inspectorate's report are not isolated events. Rather, they speak to institutional racism embedded across the prison estate and criminal justice system.

As our recent report shows, racial stereotyping, negligent mental and physical healthcare, bullying and victimisation, and the inappropriate use of segregation are systemic issues. The sharpest end of which are seen in the premature and preventable deaths of Black people in prison.   

The Inspectorate’s report makes clear that Black people in prison are calling out for effective oversight and accountability on racism and discrimination. Yet INQUEST have reported on how post-death investigations and inquests are consistently silent on issues of racism and discrimination.  

Our review into the deaths of 22 racialised people in prison showed that none of the related investigations addressed the potential role of racism or discrimination in the death. 

Imprisonment perpetuates harm and violence, with Black and marginalised people worst affected. INQUEST believes the Government’s strategy of prison expansion must be halted and resources redirected from the criminal justice system and into welfare, health, housing, education and social care to end this continued injustice.” 



For further information, please contact Lucy McKay on [email protected] or Leila Hagmann on [email protected].