United Kingdom

Prison is too soft on terrorists and they are not punished enough for radicalising inmates

Jailed terrorists are not being properly punished for radicalising other inmates and extremism may be being ‘encouraged’ in prisons, the terror watchdog has warned.

As a result an inquiry is being launched into how prisons deal with terror convicts. Jonathan Hall QC, the Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said there had been a ‘steady drumbeat’ of terror attacks on prison officers and some inmates were coming under the influence of ‘high status’ terrorist prisoners.

He told The Times: ‘We need scrutiny of how prisons operate to either contain, or worse encourage, terrorism.’ Mr Hall added that on entering jail ‘terrorists automatically achieve a sort of status’.

Khairi Saadallah, 26, befriended by a radical preacher while serving an earlier prison term

Khairi Saadallah, 26, who was given a whole life sentence earlier this month for murdering three men in a terror attack in a Reading park, had been befriended by a radical preacher while serving an earlier prison term.

Last year Brusthom Ziamani, who was serving a 19-year sentence for plotting to behead a soldier, was convicted of attempted murder for trying to hack an officer to death in the maximum security Whitemoor jail.

Mr Hall said that he had been amazed at the way terrorist prisoners were looked up to by other inmates.

‘I find it astonishing that someone should go to prison for plotting a terrorist atrocity and the concern is not that they themselves are at risk of attack, like a paedophile is often at risk of attack because prisoners generally say what they’ve done is terrible,’ he said.

‘Terrorists automatically achieve a sort of status.’

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said it had trained more than 29,000 prison officers to better spot signs of extremism, increased the number of specialist counter-terrorism staff and would separate the most subversive prisoners where necessary.

‘Our tough measures to stop extremists spreading their poisonous ideologies in prison have been stepped up,’ the spokesman said.

‘We ended the automatic early release of terrorists and our new legislation means they will also face tougher sentences and monitoring on release.’

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