Radical Islam is “taking hold” in Britain’s prisons, where a terror attack is more likely than at any time since the IRA years, a former governor who has conducted a review into Islamic extremism has warned.
“Prison is an ideal environment for the death-cult ideology of Islamist extremism to flourish,” wrote Ian Acheson in the Spectator. He also claimed staff were paralysed “for fear of being accused of being racist by Muslim prisoners”.
Mr. Acheson was commissioned by then Justice Secretary Michael Gove to conduct a review of the threat posed by Islamist extremism in prisons.
“We quizzed officials, made dozens of prison visits, analysed intelligence provided by the prison service and other agencies, and surveyed the 40,000 people who work inside the criminal justice sprawl,” he explained.
“We saw it taking hold in several prisons. We had corroborating evidence from hundreds of staff who felt unsupported and lacked the skills to cope with this new challenge.
“Worse still, we were told on countless occasions that prison officers did not confront hateful ideas on the landings for fear of being accused of being racist by Muslim prisoners.
“Without any credible counter-narrative or effective staff training, the infection of Islamist extremism was – is – spreading through the system unchecked.”
When he began his review, he claimed there “was no coherent strategy to deal with extremism and risk-assessment processes all seemed to focus on the ‘vulnerability’ of prisoners to radicalisation, and not on the actual harm Islamists could do”.
He praises Liz Truss, Mr. Gove’s successor, for implementing changes including units for troublesome Islamist inmates, but said the risk was still high because of cuts, understaffing, and other factors.
“Our prison system has been in free fall for some time. It has neither the resources nor the leadership to cope with serious challenges quite apart from Islamism,” he wrote.
“Homicide, suicide, serious assaults against staff and prisoners, disorder, overcrowding, synthetic drug use are rising sharply, while levels of safety, order, control and human decency are down.”