The Ministry of Justice is recruiting pagan chaplains to provide “religious care” at prisons across the country – with annual salaries of up to £29,ooo – despite many of the recruiting prisons facing guard shortages, Islamic extremist inmates, and drug epidemics.
“The job holder will provide for the religious care of prisoners and staff in the Pagan faith tradition and appropriate pastoral care for all irrespective of faith or tradition,” one job description for a role covering Dartmoor, Channings Wood, and Exeter prisons reads.
Applicants would be expected to “lead open ritual, officiate in Rites of Passage, and run workshops for mixed Pagan traditions within the prison system” and must be formally endorsed by their “faith community” – through the Prison Service Pagan Faith Adviser.
The pagan chaplain roles advertised on the Ministry of Justice job site, across nearly a dozen ‘clusters’ serving 35 prisons, range in salary from £25,920 to £29,176 per annum pro rata – roughly equivalent to the salary of a prison officer – for full, part-time, and job share applicants. The salary could also include a 17 per cent “unsocial hours” payment.
Some of the prisons to receive the faith services are:
- The ageing, Victorian HM Prison Winchester, which was said to be “teetering on the edge of a major incident” after an Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) report found an increase in self-harm, drug use, and violence amongst inmates and that the prison was “understaffed” with “inadequate facilities”.
- HM Prison Whitemoor, which was reported by The Times as experiencing problems with Islamic fundamentalism in 2015 where “prisoners with extremist views… have threatened violence towards non-Muslims. Others are suspected of pressurising non-Muslims to convert to Islam.”
- HMP Dartmoor, which was reported to be struggling with staff shortages and to have a ‘spice’ drug problem amongst prisoners.
- and HMP Frankland, which opened a costly ‘jihadi’ separation wing in July for Islamic extremist inmates, such as hate preacher Anjem Choudary and Fusilier Lee Rigby’s murderer Michael Adebolajo.
The diversion of funds into a chaplaincy provision for a ‘faith group’ which counted 57,000 adherents at the last census – or 0.001 per cent of the UK’s population – in a prison service that has seen officer shortages and mass walkouts in the past 18 months has been criticised as a “frivolous and unforgivable waste” by the head of the UK’s oldest conservative think tank.
Speaking to Breitbart London, chairman of the Bow Group Cllr. Ben Harris-Quinney said: “When the coalition government took power in 2010 they promised an ‘austerity budget’ to deal with the national debt crisis. What followed was yet more overspending and since that time the national debt as more than doubled.
‘Prisoners Forced to Convert to Islam for Protection’ Claims Christian Pastor https://t.co/qWhIHxoL9S
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 13, 2018
“The debt crisis is bigger than ever; at the time of the next recession this country will collapse due to decades of mismanagement.
“There are certain elements of spending that remain necessary, one of them is law enforcement and prisons. However, to spend a proportion of the prison budget, and our bloated national budget, on part-time pagans for £29,000 a year is beyond ludicrous.
“I call on the government and MoJ to urgently review this frivolous and unforgivable waste.”