The population of Muslim inmates in HMP Belmarsh has jumped by 108 per cent since 2010
The increase has come despite the total number of prisoners in the south-east London detention centre remaining broadly level.
HMP Belmarsh is one of the UK’s most secure prisons and has earned a reputation as the home of some of its most dangerous offenders – including a large swathe of terrorism convicts.
A number of high-profile terror suspects have passed through the high-security jail, including former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg.
Government data shows in spring 2010, Muslim prisoners made up just 14% of Belmarsh inmates – but less than five years later, that proportion had climbed to almost a third.
A number of high-profile terror suspects have passed through the high-security jail
The figures also reveal that the number of foreign nationals in HMP Belmarsh has increased by almost a third.
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said the government had “toughened the system” and the Home Office claims to have deported 22,000 foreign offenders over the last four years.
The situation at Belmarsh mirrors a UK-wide shift, with data suggesting a significant increase in Muslim inmates across the country – up by 122% over the past 12 years.
The number of Muslim prisoners in England and Wales rose from 5,502 prisoners in 2002 to 12,225 December 2014.
Prison reform campaigners have warned against linking the rise in Muslim population in Britain’s prisons with an increase in terrorism arrests.
Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said the Government “hasn’t a clue about what to do with this growing problem”.
He said: “If we want to reduce crime, and save money for the hard-pressed taxpayer, we need to start with a good idea of what is leading to the growth in numbers of British Muslims behind bars.
“Five years ago, the Chief Inspector of Prisons called on the Government to put in place a national strategy for dealing with the rising numbers of muslim prisoners.
“The government have ignored this call, all the while the numbers keep rising, which is more crime, more victims and more cost to the taxpayer.
Labour accused the government of having ‘ignored’ the problem
The Government hasn’t a clue about what to do with this growing problem
But this amounts to less than 1% of the total Muslim prisoner population.
In a 2010 report by the then Chief Inspector of Prisons, Dame Anne Owers, a combination of socio-economic factors were blamed for the increasing proportion of Muslim inmates.
“Muslims in Britain have a notably younger age profile than non-Muslims and are more likely to come from lower socio-economic groups,” she said.