UK to step up efforts to tackle radicalization in prisons after report finds failures

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The most dangerous and influential terrorists will be segregated into specialist units to thwart the spread of their toxic ideology, the UK has announced.

The measure is part of an approach to crack down on terrorist activity in prisons across England and Wales, following the publication of a landmark review by Jonathan Hall QC – the independent reviewer of the legislation on British government terrorism.

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

As part of the government’s new measures, a £1.2million team will quickly identify and target the most influential and charismatic terrorists, so they can be transferred to one of three ‘centres of ‘separation’ from the prison service – completely separate from the main prison population.

According to the report, however, only 15 detainees have ever been to one of the three separation centers – partly due to the complicated process of referring prisoners to them and fear of challenges, after some argued that it would violate their right to privacy under the Human Rights Act. In line with the report’s recommendation, the process of referring detainees to the centers will now be strengthened against possible legal challenges. At the same time, the government’s new Bill of Rights will limit the ability of terrorists to make insignificant complaints against their treatment under the Human Rights Act.

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

Recommendations made by Jonathan Hall QC in his report include:

  • Strengthen the referral process for offenders placed in separation centers – ensuring that there are no trivial grounds on which terrorist offenders may prevent their placement in separation centers.
  • Empower governors to tackle and reduce terrorist behavior in their prisons – ensuring they have the knowledge, resources and skills to meet this challenge and setting key targets to improve performances.
  • Improve and sustain the training received by frontline staff to spot signs of terrorist activity behind bars – ensuring they stay ahead of the game by getting the most up-to-date information on the evolving threats and the most effective ways to deal with them.

Jonathan Hall QC has also encouraged the counter-terrorism police to increase their involvement in the investigation of terrorist offenses behind bars.

Read Jonathan Hall QC’s full report to the UK Government

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