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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Prisoners are not de-radicalised

Terrorism in the UK

Prisoners are not de-radicalised

Up to 70 terrorist prisoners who have been released at the end of their sentences, or are soon to be released, could re-offend because there are no proper schemes in place to de-radicalise them, the government has warned.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent, Daily Telegraph, 8:42PM BST 07 Jun 2011

The new Prevent counter-extremism strategy says warns that 36 terrorists have been released and are on probation and that 34 of the 74 still in jail will be released in the next four years.

“Interventions” have been designed with prisoners and former prisoners to tackle issues including gang membership and al-Qaeda sympathies.

But the report says that progress has been slow in this “key area” because there is “no proven methodology which can be scaled up to manage the risks. “

“The effect in prisons has been that interventions have only reached a small proportion of the target prison population and have not kept pace with the number of [terrorist] offenders who have been released.

“There remains a significant risk that prison fails to enable terrorist prisoners to re-evaluate the views which led to their offence and conviction.”

A project by the Youth Justice Board was not running until 2009, partly because the emphasis on al-Qaeda and Muslim communities “made project managers and others uneasy.”

Assessing work with prisoners has been difficult because it is not easy to work out whether former prisoners have really changed their views, the report says.

The experience of a criminal conviction and spending time in prison can lead some people to take a closer interest in religion than they had before and while religion can help them change their lives for the better, people who convert may be vulnerable to overtures from radicalisers, the report says.

“We know that some people who have been convicted and imprisoned for terrorist-related offences have sought to radicalise and recruit other prisoners,” it says.

It adds that radicalisers use a variety of means to persuade and influence, including coercion and intimidation but it is rarely witnessed by staff.

The new strategy will issue updated instructions to prisons on managing and reporting extremist behaviour, provide new training to staff and introduce a national intelligence system for prisons.

Prison staff have been trained to spot extremist literature and to manage Friday prayers and a network has been established to share intelligence between prisons.

There are 146 prisons in England and Wales, holding about 85,000 people at any one time and 35 Probation Trusts supervising around 240,000 offenders.

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