Former prison governor Ian Acheson has said the growing number of Islamist extremists occupying UK prison cells could spur radicalization and spawn a new wave of domestic terrorists.
In an exclusive feature by The Independent newspaper, Acheson warned that terrorists could “slip through the net” and carry out terror attacks once they are released, claiming that the government hasn’t given security and intelligence services the required resources to monitor them.
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Stressing the need for prisons to operate effective rehabilitation programs, Mr. Acheson said “There has been a problem for years and the organization [HM Prison and Probation Service] has been asleep. Islamist groups offer a very seductive message and if the prison doesn’t have an alternative, because it can’t offer a full regime and rehabilitation programs, it’s a clown show.”
Moreover, he asserted that prisons are currently unable to “challenge” extremist ideologies, allowing them to thrive.
“There is no capacity for staff to challenge ideologies – we have got ungoverned spaces and that’s where extremism thrives.”
According to government data, some 230 inmates are serving sentences for terror-related offenses, though experts have insisted this figure is severely understating the true number.
Counterterrorism specialists are also having to deal with the prospect of radicalized Brits returning home from Syria, potentially looking to carry out terror attacks on behalf of Daesh* and other Islamist groups.
Britain has been hit by several terror attacks by homegrown jihadis in recent years, predominantly in London, raising questions over integration and the government’s efforts to tackle radicalization in mosques.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist organization banned in Russia and many other countries.