“Warders are too PC to stop jihadi poison spreading in jails
Political correctness in Britain’s jails has allowed Islamic extremism to flourish behind bars, a report warns today.
Terrorists and extremists have been able to spread their poison in prison because staff are too frightened of breaching human rights or being branded racists to intervene, the study for the Ministry of Justice reveals.
Author Ian Acheson, a former prison governor, says Britain has fallen behind countries such as the Netherlands, Spain and France in dealing with radicalisation in jail – with ordinary Muslims facing ‘aggressive encouragement’ to become jihadis.
In a withering verdict, he says: ‘The review recorded a lack of confidence and consistency in challenging unacceptable extremist behaviour and views.
‘It concluded that cultural sensitivity among staff towards Muslim prisoners has extended beyond the basic requirements of faith observance and could inhibit the effective confrontation of extremist views.’
The six-month study found:
Muslim inmates can be left unsupervised at Friday prayers amid ‘pressure on supervising staff to leave the prayer room’;
Extremists sometimes avoid body searches by claiming they are wearing ‘religious dress’;
Books promoting extremism were made available in prison libraries and allowed in cells;
Some inmates ‘exploit staff fear of being labelled racist’;
Charismatic Islamist extremists act as ‘self-styled emirs … a controlling and radicalising
influence on the wider Muslim prison population’ – and fanatics have tried to ‘engineer segregation’ in prisons so they can radicalise fellow inmates.
Tory MP Philip Hollobone said: ‘This timely report has hit the nail on the head. It is imperative prisons do not serve as a breeding ground for more Islamic extremism. Too many of our public institutions have fallen under the spell of political correctness … the public will be shocked that extremist elements are able to exploit traditional British tolerance … to promote violent extremism.’ Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss will today announce measures designed to toughen the approach to extremism in jail.
Islamist fanatics will be given their own security category, with the worst offenders locked up in so-called ‘jihadi wings’.
The Ministry of Justice said a crackdown on extremist literature had begun, with five titles removed from prison libraries and more likely to follow.
Warders and governors will be given ‘training, skills and authority’ to tackle the lack of confidence identified in the report.
Prison imams will face new vetting procedures and governors will be given powers to remove extremists from Friday prayers if they are ‘promoting anti-British beliefs or other dangerous views’.
But ministers stopped short of forcing Muslim prisoners to take Friday prayers by video-link from their cells, as some European countries do.
Miss Truss said: ‘Islamist extremism is a danger to society and a threat to public safety … I am committed to confronting and countering the spread of this poisonous ideology behind bars.’
Bob Neill, chairman of the justice select committee, welcomed the crackdown, adding: ‘It is very clear we should not allow any question of political correctness … to get in the way of the fact these people are deliberately targeting vulnerable individuals with their extremism.’
Figures show there are 12,633 Muslims in English and Welsh jails
. There are 147 terrorist inmates – of whom 137 identify as Muslim.
Fanatics to be kept in own prison wing
Hate preachers and Islamic terrorists are to be locked up in dedicated ‘jihadi wings’ in British jails to prevent them radicalising moderate Muslim prisoners.
Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss will today announce plans for ‘specialist units’ in some maximum security prisons for extremists who try to convert other inmates to their views.
Until now Islamist terrorists have been dispersed around the prison system in the same way as IRA terrorists convicted on the mainland were in the past.
But a review by former prison governor Ian Acheson has called for the most dangerous and charismatic offenders to be isolated from the general prison population to prevent them spreading their poison.
Government sources were tight-lipped about how many extremists could be segregated in this way, but it is thought the regime will initially apply to a modest number….
Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons justice committee, backed the measure, adding: ‘It is important that we keep these evil people out of circulation so they cannot influence or radicalise others who we are trying to rehabilitate…”