Britain announced plans Monday to house imprisoned Islamist extremists in separate units from other inmates, after a review found that some charismatic convicts were radicalizing the wider Muslim population in prisons.
The government-ordered study concluded that “cultural sensitivity” among National Offender Management Service staff toward Muslim prisoners went too far and “could inhibit the effective confrontation of extremist views.”
“There are a small number of individuals, very subversive individuals, who do need to be held in separate units,” Justice Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC.
But Peter Dawson, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said that any program must “get people back into the main prison community.”
“Anything else is just storing up an even more difficult problem for when they are eventually released,” he said.
Though the full report was kept confidential, a summary of the findings of the review recommended introducing the specialized units in order to stop a small number of individuals from being able to “proselytize” to other inmates. The release of the findings comes in advance of the sentencing of Anjem Choudary, one of Britain’s best-known radical Muslim preachers.
Choudary, who has been convicted of encouraging support for the Islamic State group, is set to be sentenced in September. He was arrested in 2014 after his name appeared on an oath recognizing the “proclaimed Islamic Caliphate State.” He said the oath was made without his knowledge.
Some 12,633 Muslims were in prison in England and Wales at the end of June, compared to 8,243 a decade earlier. Of the 147 people in prison for terrorism-related offences at the end of March, all but 10 considered themselves to be Muslim.