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JUSTICE MINISTER DEMANDS GREATER EFFORTS AT RACE RELATIONS AWARDS CONFERENCE

Reference: 361/2004 - Date: 22 Nov 2004 12:11

Baroness Scotland, Minister of State for the Criminal Justice System and Law Reform, is delivering a speech at the Butler Trust Conference on race relations in prisons, which is being held at HMP Birmingham today.

The conference is being held following the trust’s decision to give its annual Diversity Award to Raj Mander, a Principle Officer at Birmingham Prison.

The deputy governor of HMP Birmingham nominated Raj Mander for the award as a result of his personal commitment to improving race relations in the prison. Raj has made special efforts to establish strong links with local community groups and promote employment opportunities at the Prison.

The Butler Trust is a registered charity that promotes and encourages positive regimes in UKprisons. Each year, the trust makes a number of awards that recognise exceptionally dedicated, and often creative, work undertaken by paid staff or volunteers in UKprisons. The Diversity Award is a new initiative, funded by the Prison Service, which rewards outstanding work in the field of equality and diversity in prisons.

The conference will also highlight the work of a number of other prison officers, including Rob Tinkler, from HMYOI & RC Glen Parva, who won the top diversity award at the annual Prison Officer of the Year awards for establishing the "Parva Against Racism" initiative. The campaign drew support from a number of organisations in the wider community, including Leicester City Football Club.

Tackling racism is a major priority for the Prison Service, which operates a policy of total intolerance towards racism behaviour. The service has been working closely with the Commission for Racial Equality to develop an action plan on implementing racial equality in prison and has made considerable progress in reducing discrimination in all diversity areas.

Despite this progress, the Government is aware that there is still a lot to do in order to eradicate racism and discrimination in prisons.

Baroness Scotland comments:

“We are committed to developing a creative and dynamic approach to improving race relations in prison, and across the criminal justice system.

“Unless we work closely together at all levels of the system to improve our approach towards issues of race and diversity, we will be unable to develop a genuinely rehabilitative process and stop the revolving door phenomenon in prisons.

“By working closely with organisations such as the CRE and encouraging greater involvement from communities and businesses, we have already come along way towards achieving this goal and the recent establishment of the Local Criminal Justice Board Race Forum further demonstrates our intent to improve race relations throughout the system.

"As part of these efforts, we are putting particular emphasis on recruiting greater numbers of prison staff from minority backgrounds, ensuring that the prison service is more reflective of society as a whole.

“We are extremely proud of the efforts of individuals such as Raj Mander, who have made considerable progress in this field. However, we cannot be complacent and must be aware that this process is a team effort and that it will take more than the work of a few dedicated individuals to instigate a genuine culture change across the whole criminal justice system.”

Today’s conference focuses on “Rising to the Diversity Challenge” and will promote a culture of diversity and equality and celebrate the excellent work of prison staff operating in difficult circumstances. It will also identify ways in which poor performance in issues of race and diversity can be addressed.

The conference will also feature speeches from Phil Wheatley, Director General of HM Prison Service, and former Englandfootballer and television pundit Sir Trevor Brooking, who is a trustee of The Butler Trust.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1.      The Butler Trust conference on "Rising to the Diversity Challenge" takes place today between 10.30amand 4.00pm

2.      The Conference is being held at All Saints House, HMP Birmingham, Winson Green Road.

3.      A press facility involving Baroness Scotland and Mr Raj Mander will be held at All Saints House after the conference.

4.   The ButlerTrust was set us as a registered charity in 1985 to promote and encourage positive regimes in UKprisons. For more information about the organisation, please visit www.thebutlertrust.org

Published: 22 Nov 2004