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U.K. to Step Up Counter Radicalization Efforts in Prisons After Report Finds Failings

More dangerous and influential terrorists will be separated in specialist units to thwart the spread of their poisonous ideology, the U.K. has announced.

The step is part of an approach to clamp down on terrorist activity in jails in England and Wales, following the publication of a landmark review carried out by Jonathan Hall QC – the U.K. Government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

The report was commissioned after a recently released prisoner committed a fatal attack on London Bridge, in November 2019.

As part of the government’s new measures, a £1.2 million team will quickly identify and target the most influential and charismatic terrorists, so they can be moved to one of the Prison Service’s three ‘Separation Centres’ – completely apart from the main prison population.

According to the report however, only 15 inmates have ever been in one of the three separation centers – partly because of the complicated process of referring prisoners to them and the fear of challenges, after some argued it would breach their right to a private life under the Human Rights Act. In line with the report’s recommendation, the process for referring prisoners to the centers will now be strengthened against potential legal challenges. At the same time, the Government’s new Bill of Rights will limit terrorists’ ability to bring trivial claims against their treatment under the Human Rights Act.

In addition, £6 million will be invested to expand ‘Close Supervision Centres’, where the most physically violent offenders can be held – including terrorists. This will prevent their potential recruitment to extremist causes.

Recommendations made by Jonathan Hall QC in his report include:

  • Strengthening the referral process for offenders placed in Separation Centres – making sure there are no trivial grounds on which terrorist offenders can frustrate their placement in separation centers.
  • Handing Governors greater autonomy for tackling and reducing terrorist behaviour in their prisons – ensuring they have the knowledge, resource and skills to meet this challenge and putting key targets in place to improve performance.
  • Improving and future-proofing the training received by frontline staff to spot the signs of terrorist activity behind bars – ensuring they remain one step ahead of the game by getting the most up-to-date information on evolving threats and the most effective means to tackle them.

Jonathan Hall QC also encouraged Counter Terrorism Policing to increase its involvement with investigating terrorist offending behind bars.

Read the full report by Jonathan Hall QC at the U.K. government

 

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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