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UK government to tackle Islamist extremism in prisons through segregation policies

Convicted Islamist radicals will be held in specialised segregated units in British prisons in an effort to combat influential fanatics.

Governors and prison officers will also be given specific training and new powers to tackle “extremist prisoners exerting control and radicalising others.”

These powers include the banning of Islamic literature and removing those accused of promoting anti-British beliefs from their Friday prayers.

The most dangerous extremists will be segregated from the general prison population and housed in specialised “high secutirty” units.

These units were initially proposed by Ian Acheson whose team made over 60 prison visits in the UK and overseas, and interviewed more than 300 prison staff after being commissioned by Secretary of State for Justice Elizabeth Truss in 2015.

This comes after reports that renowned British Muslim Anjem Choudary is facing facing jail for his support of the religiously-motivated terror group Islamic State.

In a statement from the Ministry of Justice, Truss said that Islamist extremism is a very present and real danger to society and must be defeated wherever found.

She added: “I am committed to confronting and countering the spread of this poisonous ideology behind bars.

Preventing the most dangerous extremists from radicalising other prisoners is essential to the safe running of our prisons and fundamental to public protection.”

The statement also claimed that a reluctance to combat extremist views has developed from a lack of confidence in dealing with those considered to be most likely to incite hatred.

The key measures the government aim to introduce:

  • creating a new directorate for Security, Order and Counter-Terrorism, which will deliver a plan for countering extremism in prisons and probation services
  • instructing governors to remove extremist literature and putting in place a thorough process to assess materials of concern
  • boosting plans for rapid responses by intervention teams to terrorist-related incidents
  • improving extremism prevention training for all prison officers
  • strengthening vetting of prison chaplains and a range of positions to make sure the right people are in place in prisons to counter extremist beliefs

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