LONDON: According to new statistics released by the Home Office, record number of terrorists are being held in British prisons amid warnings over radicalisation inside “chaotic” jails.
The figures indicate there were 243 people in custody for terror-related offences, up 24 on the previous year. It comes as the government pushes for a raft of changes aiming to jail terror offenders for longer and make serious criminals serve more of their sentences in prison, the Independent has quoted the report.
Four alleged terror attacks have been launched by serving or released prisoners in the past year, in Fishmongers’ Hall, HMP Whitemoor, Streatham and Reading.
A prison officer working in the high-security estate told The Independent the current situation was a “nightmare”. “I don’t see any end to the attacks whatsoever, those ones that come in with an extremist view leave with a stronger one,” he added.
“You’re releasing people onto the streets and you dread to think what’s going to happen.
“No matter what ministers say everything is not great in UK prisons, it’s appalling.”
The man, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there was “no control” over radicalised inmates and raised concern over longer jail terms.
“They cannot cope with the extremist population they have at the minute so how do they think they’ll cope with adding to that with more extremists on longer jail terms?” he asked.
The officer said radicalised inmates had attacked and threatened staff and that newly-recruited prison officers were seen as “easy prey”.
“I’ve seen people do one shift and leave,” he added. “Most of the prisons are being run on chaos, a lot of things pass that shouldn’t pass because they haven’t got the time to deal with incidents.”
The newspaper says that the Ministry of Justice said it has improved monitoring and intelligence-sharing inside prisons and trained officers on how to spot the signs of extremism. But the officer said the training was “awful” and that staff were “run ragged” and powerless to monitor conversations in other languages.
Recent research warned that some extremists see their time in prison “as an opportunity” to become more extreme and prepare for attacks.