The disproportionately high number of Black teenagers in custody is growing and this group is still more likely to face negative treatment than young White people, according to a recent report.
HM Inspectorate of Prisons and the Youth Justice Board found that more than a third of the young prison population is Black or from a minority ethnic group. The report, Children and Young People in Custody, looked at every juvenile prison in England and Wales during 2008-9 and surveyed 15-18-year-olds about their experiences of prison life. In 2007, 29 per cent of young men in custody were Black. This has risen to 35 per cent, while young Black women account for 21 per cent of the population.
Worryingly, the report also found that young Black men were more likely to be physically restrained than their White counterparts, with a third of them admitting experiencing this. This group reported worse relationships with staff and their expectations of life outside prison were lower. Meanwhile, young Black women were less likely to get help with alcohol or drug problems than other young women.
The report illustrates a marked difference in the backgrounds of young Black and White people in custody. Overall, fewer Black people had been in care, or been excluded from school, and more planned to continue education on release. For half of them it was their first time in prison. One of the areas where young Black people were better off was in their access to religious services and in knowing how to make a complaint.
Download a copy of Children and Young People in Custody 2008-2009: An analysis of the experiences of 15-18-year-olds in prison here (pdf file, 2.2mb)