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Prison Service: Racial discrimination

Volume 506: debated on Wednesday 3 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison officers have been dismissed on grounds of racist behaviour in each of the last three years. (319560)

Staff working in the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) are expected to meet high standards of professional and personal conduct. Behaviour constituting discrimination, harassment, victimisation or bullying—including instances which involve a racial element—will not be tolerated and, depending on the individual circumstances of the case, would fall under the category of gross misconduct and would invariably lead to dismissal.

Details of disciplinary outcomes are recorded centrally according to the type of misconduct rather than the actual offence committed by the member of staff. According to central records, five prison officers have been dismissed from public sector Prison Service establishments on grounds of racist behaviour since 1 January 2007. A breakdown of this information is provided in the following table.

Calendar year










1 Data on disciplinary dismissals are derived from the HR Discipline Database and the Shared Service Personnel Management Database. As with any large-scale administrative systems these are liable to a certain level of inaccuracy. Cases that are ongoing or subject to internal appeal have not been included.

There may be additional cases on the central databases which have not been recorded as racist in nature. In order to confirm the accuracy of this data, NOMS would need to contact all public sector Prison Service establishments, ask them to check their local records for the period required and ask them to submit this information to Headquarters so that the central records can be updated. This would incur disproportionate cost.

NOMS believes that the key to long-term success in tackling unacceptable behaviour is to embed a sustainable diversity infrastructure across the service. A major initiative in this area has been the development of Challenge It Change It, a new training course and diversity toolkit. This is being introduced across the public sector prison service and NOMS HQ and is receiving very positive feedback.