Experts are advising that imprisoned Islamic extremists should have their own segregated prison wings to prevent the radicalisation of more moderate inmates among Britain’s growing Muslim prisoner population.
The Quilliam Foundation, the world’s first counter-extremism think tank, has suggested a trial of the “essential” anti-radicalisation scheme be run at Whitemoor High Security Prison where 51 per cent of prisoners are Muslim, reports The Mirror. Whitemoor already has a Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder Unit and a Close Supervision Centre, so is well used to running specialist prison wings.
Quilliam’s Political Liaison Officer, Jonathan Russell, said:
“There is a history of prisons segregating groups, such as sex offenders. In practice, this would mean having separate wings for Muslims’ convicted of terrorism or extremist offences.
“The Prison Estate has a duty of care for the physical and intellectual well being of all their inmates. It is essential to prevent the radicalisation of inmates – both Muslim and non-Muslim – inside jail.”
Quilliam’s call comes at the same time as new figures showing there are now 12,328 Muslims prisoners in British prisons, a rise of 234 per cent since 1997 when there were 3,681. The group believes those numbers, stretched budgets and an under-staffed prison service are all contributing to the problem. Russell added:
“The prison population in general is at risk. We need to do preventive work inside the prison with the general population and work to change the ideas of radicals.”
Russell suggested prison Imams should clamp down on radicals, educating other prisoners about the difference between their religion and the ideology of Islamist extremists.
A Prison Officers Association spokesman said:
“Radicalisation is a growing problem. There is clear evidence of an Islamic gang culture in some prisons – aimed at young men.
“There are also an increasing number of terrorist offenders, mainly in high security jails. This puts unique pressure on prisons at a time of cost cutting and overcrowding.”