Church petitions PM for inquiry into black over-representation in British prisons

A Birmingham church is asking the Prime Minister to launch an inquiry into the large numbers of young black people in British prisons.

The request to David Cameron has been signed by 150 members of the Church of God of Prophecy, Winson Green, which is a stone's throw from HM Prison Birmingham.

According to Government figures published last month, while black people make up 2.8% of the general population, they account for 13.1% of the UK prison population.

The church petition reads: "We the undersigned, being members and friends of the Church of God of Prophecy, Winson Green, Birmingham B18 7DL, call upon our Prime Minister to hold an Inquiry into why such a disproportionate number of young people, particularly young black men, are in Prison in Britain. We understand that young black British men are up to five times more likely than white to be in prison."

The church said it was awaiting a reply from the Prime Minister.

A Churches Together in England seminar heard last week that there are five times as many black people as white people in UK prisons.

Dr R David Muir, co-chair of the National Church Leaders Forum, told of one prison he visited where half of the black prisoners were from church backgrounds, with 12% coming from the families of Christian pastors.

The seminar, examining the radicalisation of young black Christian converts to Islam, also heard that prisons are becoming a key recruiting ground for extremist groups.