The UK will launch a new specialist team of counter-terrorism experts aimed at tackling the “threat” of extremism in the country’s prisons.
The 100-strong task force, to be announced tomorrow, will train staff on how to deter offenders from being radicalised and advice jails on how to deal with dangerous prisoners.
“Extremism is a danger to society and a threat to public safety. It is right we come together to bolster our response to the threats posed by radicalisation behind bars, and give our hard-working staff the skills and knowledge they need to keep our prisons and communities safe,” said Sam Gyimah, the UK’s prisons minister.
“This new team will lead this strand of important work to help combat and defeat terrorist threats posed by offenders in the prison estate and in the community. By countering the poisonous and repugnant activities of extremists, we will help ensure the safe running of our prisons and keep the public safe,” he said.
The squad will have its “strategy centre” in London, with a number of specialist teams in regions around the UK.
The idea was included in a White Paper put out to consultation in November 2016.
“Extremism in prison endangers prisoners and staff, encourages criminal behaviour and terrorism, and undermines the proper functioning of the justice system,” it read.
“Tackling extremism in prison requires dealing with a wide range of offenders, from highly motivated terrorists convicted of extremely serious offences, to prisoners who may be vulnerable or susceptible to extremist ideology,” it added.
The new task force, jointly formed between HM Prison and Probation Service and the Home Office, will work closely with police and other enforcement agencies.
Other measures already taken include an instruction to governors to ban extremist literature and remove anyone from communal worship who is promoting anti-British beliefs or other dangerous views.