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Churches interrogate black over-representation in British prisons 

They will present findings to all political parties ahead of General Election

Black and white Church leaders, practitioners and academics are gathering in London as part of Prisons Week to explore reasons for the acute over-representation of black people in British prisons.

Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net

Black prisoners account for the largest number of minority ethnic prisoners, with 26 per cent of all prisoners being from a minority ethnic background compared with 10 per cent of the general population (Prison Reform Trust 13/14).

On Friday (21 November) there will be a symposium at Westminster Central Hall entitled ‘Interrogating overrepresentation of black people in prisons’.

A church service with the same theme takes place on Saturday 22 November, 5-7pm, at Christ Faith Tabernacle Cathedral, Woolwich. Speakers include Dr R David Muir, Pastor Nims Obunge, Dr Martin Glynn and others.

Prisons Week co-organiser Bob Wilson, a Baptist minister and prison chaplain, said, 'This Prisons Week we would like to help the Church respond to the issues which have led to over 22,000 black people finding themselves behind bars.

'As faith communities we need to take seriously our responsibility for moral leadership and these events offer us the chance to dig deeply into some of the root causes of this social injustice.'

With the General Elections next year looming church leaders plan to make their findings clear to all parties for greater political awareness and action on an issue that has long affected black communities in the UK. 
These meetings take place as the Equality and Human Rights Commission says there is now greater disproportionality in the number of black people in prisons in the UK than in the United States.
Fellow co-organiser Bishop Joe Aldred describes the situation as ‘a matter of social and racial justice. Either black people are pathologically crime-orientated or the social space we all share needs urgent attention because it appears to disproportionally discriminate against some of its citizens’.

The symposium and church service have been organised by Churches Together in England www.cte.org.uk and the Free Churches Group www.freechurches.org.uk

Pre-booking for the symposium is essential – email thandar.tun@freechurches.org.uk

Baptist Times, 19/11/2014
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