The British government reveals plans to tackle Islamist extremism in prisons on Monday. Justice Secretary Liz Truss in an interview on BBC radio said she was taking action to reduce the spread of radical ideology within the mainstream prison population, including training officers to disrupt activity that could influence vulnerable prisoners.
New measures include isolation of Islamist extremists in special units in high security jails to limit their ability to radicalize other inmates."But there are a small number of individuals, very subversive individuals, who do need to be held in separate units,"
Truss told. "We are establishing specialist units in the prison estate to hold those individuals."
As well as confirming new specialist units to hold extremists, governors have been instructed to ban extremist and offensive literature and remove anyone from Friday prayers who is "promoting beliefs that run counter to fundamental British values.”
Prison officers will from October start to wear body cameras to improve evidence collection for offences and other activity in jails.
The new policy follows a review into extremism in prisons led by former prison governor Ian Acheson, which is due to be published on Monday. A government-ordered review into radicalisation in jails suggested fanatics had attempted to engineer segregation and exploit a fear among staff of being labelled racist.
Truss said the measures were needed in order to stop the “spread of this poisonous ideology behind bars”
, but critics questioned whether they were appropriate.
Critics fall over these special units, saying they could become places where the most dangerous extremists can exchange ideas and create networks.
Truss answered the risks would be managed by creating small units within existing prisons and by establishing a new directorate of security and counter terrorism that would make sure prisoners did not collaborate.
Official figures show there are now more than 12,600 Muslims in prison in England and Wales, while the figure was just 8,200 a decade earlier. Of the 147 people in prison for terrorism-related offences, 137 of them considered themselves to be Muslim.