Watchdog warns terrorists in Britain escaping prosecution for crimes committed inside prison


LONDON: Terror offenders are not being prosecuted for crimes committed in prison, including making weapons and glorifying terrorism, a report has revealed.

Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said opportunities were being lost to delay the release of dangerous inmates or jail them for new offences, the Independent has reported.

Jonathan Hall QC

The report found that failing to act on reports about potential offences in prison were causing “lost opportunities to mitigate risk”.

Crimes that have not been prosecuted include the discovery of homemade weapons, the glorification of terrorism, dissemination of extremist material and possession of illicit phones.

“There are cases where people are coming to the end of their sentence where there is serious concern with the risk they pose,” Mr Hall told The Independent.

“One of the ways of keeping them in prison for longer is by prosecuting them for a new offence, if it has happened in prison.”

He said he “became aware” that things that would have been investigated and prosecuted if they had taken place outside prison weren’t always being processed with a view to prosecution if they happened inside.

A prison officer working in the high-security estate told The Independent he agreed with the assessment, adding: “That’s pretty much the case anywhere. It comes down to a lack of experience with staff and it’s a case of governors wanting to keep a lid on what’s happening in their jails. They think ‘let’s just sit on it’, ‘monitor’ is the buzzword.”

The officer said staff who reported potential crimes got “deflated” when action was not taken and became less likely to act on future incidents.

He added: “The police are very reluctant to get involved because they think, ‘Is it in the public interest? They are already in a prison’.” The report found that some incidents were referred to internal prison disciplinary processes rather than being investigated as possible crimes.

Mr Hall said there was a “risk of missed opportunities”, as well as a knock-on effect on the information shared with other agencies when extremists are released. His review was commissioned after the Fishmongers’ Hall attack, where Usman Khan stabbed two people to death at a rehabilitation event in November.