1 in 5 top-security UK prisoners is Muslim.
Previously, IW reported that as of December 2014, Muslims made up 12,225 or 14.4% of the UK's 84,691 prisoners, but only 4.8% of its population.
This week, the Sun reported that over 1 in 5 prisoners in top-security UK prisons is Muslim.
Specifically, 1,229 out of 5,885 prisoners incarcerated in Category A prisons – those convicted of the most serious offenses – are Muslim. That works out to 20.88% of the UK's Category A prisoners.
By contrast, fewer than 1 in 20 people in the UK are Muslim. Roughly 2,706,066 or 4.8% out of a population of 56,075,912 identified as Muslim, according to the UK's 2011 census. (Given that the UK's total population is elsewhere identified as 63.2 million, the actual Muslim percentage may be closer to 4.28%.)
Former chief prisons inspector Nick Hardwick warned of jihadi recruitment and gang violence in UK prisons.
In other words, whereas Muslims are overrepresented in the general British prison population by a factor of 3 times their percentage of the population, they are overrepresented among more serious offenders by a factor of 4.35 times their percentage of the population.
It is perhaps unsurprising that last month, outgoing chief prisons inspector Nick Hardwick warned Islamists were using British prisons to recruit jihadis. Hardwick reportedly told The Times of London, "There are undoubtedly a small number of very dangerous men motivated by a religion or ideology who are trying to recruit other people so they will go on to commit offences linked to that ideology or religion." He also warned about the general problem of prison gangs including Muslim gangs.
In what is surely an example of prison gang violence if not of jihadi violence, a gang of eight inmates attacked former paratrooper Craig Jones in the UK's Hewell Prison on January 9, 2016. The gang was led by a Muslim convert serving ten years for killing a soldier in 2014 by ramming into the victim's car. The religious identities of the other seven gang members have not been disclosed. Reportedly, the attack concerned a cigarette debt rather than Islamist terrorism.
Johanna Markind is associate counselor at the Middle East Forum