Convicted terrorists will be banned from taking a leading role in religious services and face more rigorous checks for extremist literature as the government redoubles efforts to crackdown on dangerous radicalizers behind bars.
New rules will prevent terrorist prisoners leading the call to prayer or delivering sermons – positions they could exploit to gain authority or influence over other offenders and spread their poisonous ideology. This will strengthen existing measures preventing the most dangerous prisoners leading Friday prayers by extending the ban to all faiths and not just those in high-security prisons – protecting frontline staff and the public.
The U.K. government also confirmed on April 30 limits on prisoners’ property that will prevent extremists circumventing prison rules to hide and spread extremist texts. While under prison rules there are no limits on the number of books prisoners can own, the government will toughen these restrictions by stating that they must fit into two medium size boxes with a maximum weight of 15 kilograms. This follows instances where prisoners have gathered hundreds of books in their cells – in one case an offender had more than 200 books – in an apparent attempt to thwart prison officers searching for extremist material.
This week also sees construction beginning on a new Close Supervision Centre at His Majesty’s Prison Frankland – a separate wing to hold the most physically violent prisoners, including terrorists ,to further tackle extremist activity. The moves build on a bolstered approach to managing terrorists in prison that began a year ago this week following an independent review Jonathan Hall KC.
“Faith can play a vital part in prisoners’ rehabilitation but we must never tolerate terrorists who seek to exploit religious services to advance their own sinister agenda,” Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk said. “These changes, alongside tougher sentences for terrorists who commit crimes behind bars and our work to separate more of the most radical terrorists, will better protect our hardworking staff, other prisoners and the public.”
There are currently around 200 convicted terrorists in custody in the U.K., many of whom attempt to justify their offenses through their flawed interpretation of religion.