Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Three-way Plan to Combat Extremism in British Prisons | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A prison guard locks a door in Britain. Reuters

London-Few days after hate preacher Anjem Choudary was convicted of swearing allegiance to ISIS, the British government unveiled new plans to hold influential hate preachers in separate prison units in the framework of a general reform for the system of prisons.

Sentencing the right arm of Omar Bakri Mohammed, the founder of ‘immigrants” terrorist organization to ten years behind bars, prompted concerns he could recruit other inmates to the terror group.

Minister of Justice in Theresa May’s government, Elizabeth Truss issued to prison officials new orders that aim at fighting terrorism and the spread of extremism, a source from the Ministry of Justice confirmed on Sunday.

Asharq Al-Awsat was informed that the Ministry is preparing for a three-way plan to deter extremism in its prisons.

The first aims at improving extremism prevention training for all officers.

Spokeswoman for the ministry revealed in a phone call on Sunday that the authorities are planning to create a new department — the Security, Order and Counter Terrorism Directorate — which will be in charge of developing the plan to counter ‘Islamist’ extremism in prisons.

The second states banning extremist literature and removing anyone from Friday prayers who is “promoting anti-British beliefs or other dangerous views.”

Moreover, the ministry called for boosting scrutiny among clerics who provide services inside prisons and making sure the right person is given the proper post, in order to deter the spread of radical beliefs and halt it.

The third, which is considered the most important in the government’s plan, aims at locking up the most dangerous extremists in isolated high-security units within prisons to prevent them from radicalizing other inmates.

The new plans form part of a large-scale prison review undertaken by Ian Acheson in September 2015, a former prison governor, under former Justice Secretary Michael Gove, which aimed to halt radicalization in the UK.

Gove’s successor, Elizabeth Truss, threw her support behind the overhaul.

In this matter, Truss said: “The rise of Islamist extremism poses an existential threat to our society. I am committed to confronting and countering the spread of this poisonous ideology behind bars.”

“Preventing the most dangerous extremists from radicalizing other prisoners is essential to the safe running of our prisons and fundamental to public protection.”

Figures show there were 12,633 Muslims in prison in England and Wales as of the end of June. The number stood at 8,243 a decade earlier.

At the end of March, of the 147 people in prison for terrorism-related offences, 137 of them considered themselves to be Muslim.

A separate official report published last month said that at any one time the National Offender Management Service manages more than 1,000 prisoners who have been identified as extremist or vulnerable to extremism.