Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.
If you are in prison, it is against the law for the prison to treat you less favourably because of your:
Everyone in prison should have equal access to facilities, including jobs, education, library services, exercise and accommodation.
Under existing anti-discrimination legislation (the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Disability Discrimination Act 2005 and the Race Relations Act 1976), prisons have certain legal responsibilities to tackle discrimination. As public authorities, they also have positive duties to promote equality and to comply with the Human Rights Act. Find out more about these duties.
Examples of unlawful discrimination against prisoners might include the following:
Racial equality is a significant issue in prisons. One in four prisoners is from an ethnic minority group, compared with one in eleven among the whole population in England and Wales. Between 1999 and 2002, the total prison population grew by just over 12 per cent while the number of black prisoners rose by over 50 per cent.
Following an inquiry into the racially motivated murder in custody of Zahid Mubarek , which raised many concerns about the management of racial equality in prisons, and a formal investigation by the former Commission for Racial Equality into the Prison Service.
If you think that you, or another prisoner, are being treated unfairly, there are certain procedures in place to help you address these in the first instance.
If you think that you, or another prisoner, are being treated unfairly on racial grounds, you can discuss the problem with the prison’s race relations liaison officer. If you fill in a racist incident reporting form, which should be available on all wings, and put it in a complaints box, the race relations liaison officer will come and talk to you about the complaint. If you are not happy with the result, a full investigation will be carried out.
If you think that you, or another prisoner, are being treated unfairly because of a disability, you can discuss the problem with the disability liaison officer or fill in a complaint form.
Read more about your rights in prison and how to take action if you think you have suffered discrimination.
Read more about your right to freedom from threats and mistreatment under the Human Rights Act.