London, May 26 : Muslims at one of Britain's top-security jails have been able to form gangs inside, and staff are ill-equipped and frightened to deal with them, according to a confidential report.
Prison officers fear further acts of indiscipline among the 112 Muslim inmates who make up almost 30 per cent of the 400 prisoners at Whitemoor jail in Cambridgeshire.
The review also found that reluctance on part of the staff to challenge inappropriate behaviour, particularly among black prisoners, was leading to a feeling that the power was shifting from officers to inmates, The Times reported.
The independent charity the Howard League for Penal Reform, which obtained a leaked copy of the report, said the inquiry indicated "extremely disturbing" problems that needed urgent attention.
The report, carried out by a 14-strong team from the Prison Service's directorate of high security, was commissioned by Whitemoor governor Steve Rodford in January after five prisoners committed suicide at the jail between November 2006 and December 2007.
The report said that some Muslim prisoners believed that they were being harassed and that they were being identified as gang members.
It blamed some of the anxieties of staff on the pace of change in the jail and Prison Service generally. It said that change in the prison was not being managed effectively and that poor communication with staff was fuelling rumour, gossip, mistrust and resistance.
Jail watchdogs have said that an influx of rival gang members from inner cities has fuelled a new wave of fear and violence at some of the maximum-security prisons.
A Prison Service spokesman said: "A programme of work is planned at Whitemoor to increase mutual understanding between staff and prisoners."