- Imams could also be banned from preaching in UK prisons, PM says
- Terrorists are 'preying on weak inmates' and forcing conversions to Islam
- 1,000 prisoners identified as extremist or vulnerable to radicalisation in UK
David Cameron, pictured today, pledged to 'open a new front' on extremism in prisons by announcing a series of radical reforms to the UK's justice system
Terrorists could be locked in separate prisons and Imams could be banned from visiting jails under proposals unveiled by David Cameron today.
The Prime Minister said ministers were considering the plans as part of the Government's renewed crackdown on extremism in UK jails.
Revealing that currently around 1,000 of Britain's prison population have been identified as extremist or vulnerable to being radicalised, Mr Cameron said inmates convicted of terrorism offences could be relocated to separate locations if prison governors deemed it necessary.
The measures - part of a 'new front' to tackling radicalisation in jails - would prevent prisons becoming a recruitment target for extremists, where terrorists are able to convert 'weak' individuals to Islam through 'intimidation, violence and grooming' to spread a 'warped view of the world'.
'We will not stand by and watch people being radicalised like this while they are in the care of the state,' Mr Cameron declared today in a major speech on prison reform - the first by a prime minister solely on jails in two decades.
'And I want to be clear: I am prepared to consider major changes: from the imams we allow to preach in prison to changing the locations and methods for dealing with prisoners convicted of terrorism offences, if that is what is required.'
The anti-extremism crackdown was part of a radical set of prison reforms unveiled by the Prime Minister today.
He also announced plans to make it easier for authorities to deport foreign criminals by forcing foreign nationals to hand over their passports and declare their nationality in court.
It follows complaints from prison governors that they struggle to identify the nationality of inmates after they have arrived in prison, which slows down the process for deportation.
PRISONERS WON'T HAVE TO DECLARE CRIMINAL RECORD IN JOB APPLICATIONS
Mr Cameron said: 'Of course, there is one group I do want out of prison much more quickly, instead of British taxpayers forking out for their bed and breakfast: and that is foreign national offenders.
'One of the big barriers here is that we don’t systematically record the nationality of offenders early enough – and this can hamper our ability to deport them.
'I know the frustrations of prison governors when they have to try to find out someone’s nationality after they’ve already arrived in prison.
'So I can announce today that we will now legislate to give the police new powers to require foreign nationals to hand over their passports, and make them declare their nationality in court.'
'It will help speed up the deportation of foreign criminals in Britain.'
Other major reforms announced today were plans to allow some prisoners out during the week.
The move will see inmates nearing the end of their sentences only locked up behind bars at weekends.
And prisoners will not be forced to declare their criminal records on job applications under new proposals.
The Prime Minister announced today that:
- Prisoners won't have to declare criminal convictions on job applications
- Some inmates will be let out during the week
- Prison governors will gain more powers over budgets, education and rules
- Some offenders will be banned from drinking after release and fitted with tags to detect alcohol consumption;
- New GPS technology will allow constant monitoring of criminals on community service;
- Mobile phone firms will be told to switch off the signal near prisons to stop convicts making calls;
- New league tables of prisons will show which are best at rehabilitation.
Labour reacted to today's announcements with scepticism, asking why the Tories had failed to improve conditions in jails during their last five years in power.
The party highlighted quotes from Mr Cameron in 2007 when he promised to make prison reform one of the key planks of his 'central mission'.
Lord Falconer, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said: 'The scandalous failure David Cameron condemns is his own.
'The Tories have had five years to improve our prisons and we have heard promises of 'rehabilitation revolution' many times before.
'Instead, they have cut staff, closed effective jails, decreased transparency and presided over a crisis.
'While Ministers continue to ignore the appalling conditions in our prisons and with no additional funding provided it is unclear how these announcements will make any real difference.'