A British prison authority has alleged that Takfiris in the UK are “deliberately” vying for custodial court sentences or obtaining prison jobs in an attempt to radicalize inmates.
The allegation comes following an order by British Justice Secretary Michael Gove for a review of how the prison and probation services deal with the radicalization of jail inmates, which will also include a probe into allegations that Muslim preachers are engaged in radicalizing prisoners, The Guardian reported Saturday.
“The probe has to have a far wider reach. We have concerns that Islamist extremists are deliberately getting custodial sentences in order to target vulnerable prisoners,” said assistant general secretary of UK’s Prison Officers Association (POA), Glyn Travis, in an interview with the daily without elaborating on how such manipulation of the British justice system can be carried out without detection. “They are often clever and well educated and can brainwash young people.”
He also added that the problem of radicalization is not limited to Takfiri preachers, accusing Secretary Gove as well as the chief of the country’s National Offender Management Service (Noms) of “burying their heads in the sand” over the problem.
The POA has called for a multi-disciplinary approach to dealing with inmate radicalization, which includes the examination of court reports by experts to find whether extremists were intentionally seeking prison terms, as well as reviewing prison officer recruitment.
Travis, however, rejected such measures, saying, “We’ve spoken to the secretary of state and the head of Noms, and the response seems to be to bury their heads in the sand.”
He further insisted that there was a problem with people becoming prison officers for just six to eight weeks in a bid to traffic “unauthorized articles” into prisons.
Noting that the recruitment process permits applicants to indicate which prison facility they would like to be assigned to, Travis said the procedure allows potential extremists to target jail particularly vulnerable to radicalization, such as those with high numbers of inmates convicted of terrorism charges.
“We’ve got a system where local recruitment is very dangerous,” he said. “If you’re a very extreme member of the community, you can apply for a job at prisons with an extremist problem, like Belmarsh, which has a high number of inmates jailed for terror offences.”
The number of Muslims in the UK prison system has doubled in the past decade, reaching 11,729 in 2013. Currently, there are over 12,000 Muslim inmates in prison facilities across England and Wales, out of a total prison population of more than 85,000 people, with the latest statistics showing that 131 of them are in jail for terror charges.