Governors and prison officers are to be given the training, skills and authority needed to prevent influential extremist prisoners from exerting control and radicalising others. This follows a landmark review published by the Government that examines the risks posed by Islamist extremists in prisons.
Prison officers on the front line will be equipped to crack down on extremist behaviour. They will be supported by a new directorate for Security, Order and Counter-Terrorism specifically responsible for monitoring and dealing with this evolving threat.
Governors have also been instructed to ban extremist literature and remove anyone from Friday prayers who’s promoting anti-British beliefs or other dangerous views.
The most dangerous Islamist extremists will be removed from the general prison population and held in ‘specialist units’ in the high security estate. The creation of these units is one of the recommendations in the review, ordered by the Government last year and led by Ian Acheson.
Elizabeth Truss, the Secretary of State for Justice, said: “Islamist extremism is a danger to society and a threat to public safety. It must be defeated wherever it’s found. I am committed to confronting and countering the spread of this poisonous ideology behind bars. Preventing the most dangerous extremists from radicalising other prisoners is essential to the safe running of our prisons and fundamental to public protection.”
Key measures to be implemented include:
*creating a new directorate for Security, Order and Counter-Terrorism which will deliver a plan for countering extremism in prisons and probation services
*instructing prison governors to remove extremist literature and putting in place a thorough process for assessing materials of concern
*boosting plans for rapid responses by intervention teams to terrorist-related incidents
*improving extremism prevention training for all prison officers
*strengthening vetting of prison chaplains and a range of positions to make sure the right people are in place in prisons to counter extremist beliefs
The Government is committed to defeating all forms of extremist ideology through its Counter Extremism Strategy, which includes a focus on supporting mainstream voices and building stronger and more cohesive communities.
The Government is also strengthening institutions and supporting individuals at particular risk of radicalisation through the Prevent programme as part of the counter-terrorism strategy (ie CONTEST). Through targeted interventions, the Government will encourage Islamist extremists to disengage, while at the same time closely monitoring and managing the risk presented by those who choose not to do so.