The purpose of the Fair Response project was:

To consult black and minority ethnic prisoners to develop new ways of responding to racist incidents so that BME prisoners have more confidence in them.

Four prisons participated: a women’s prison, a local prison, a young offender institution and a prison for sentenced men. Prisoners from BME groups were interviewed to gather evidence about the specific problems with racism experienced in each prison. PRT then convened a working group in each prison. Prisoner race representatives (appointed to provide prisoners’ input on race equality policies and practices) were involved in all four prisons.

Racist incidents in prisons

The interviews gathered information about race relations, the response to complaints, and the person’s recent experience at that prison. If they had witnessed or experienced racism, they were asked to describe what happened.

 From their accounts of racist incidents, PRT found six basic categories:

• blatant and malicious racism
• direct racial discrimination
• informal partiality (or favouritism)
• either way incidents
• offence to culture or religion
• structural bias

 Across the four prisons, this process developed 64 proposals. The main recommendations were:

• prisons should make use of independent input in investigations
• victims and witnesses must be informed of their rights in the process
• the role of race reps should be enhanced to support prisoners who experience racist incidents
• other, less formal responses should be tried, including mediation.

 You can download the Fair Response briefing here