LONDON: The British government has launched a review into the way terrorists are handled inside jails amid concerns that prison officers are at risk from Daesh-inspired terror attacks, according to The Independent.
The review comes after two inmates were jailed earlier this month for the attempted murder in January of a prison officer using improvised weapons and fake suicide vests — the latest of four terror attacks carried out by incarcerated or recently released prisoners in the past year.
The two men behind the January attacks accessed Daesh propaganda in jail. One assailant — Brusthom Ziamani — was known to be a terrorism risk after originally being jailed for plotting to behead a soldier.
His accomplice, Baz Hockton, was radicalized inside prison, where he was jailed for a series of random knife attacks.
The Ministry of Justice said it has safeguards in place to prevent and monitor extremism, but neither convict had raised concerns and Ziamani was about to be given a “certificate of achievement” for complying with a deradicalization program for eight months.
There are currently a record number of people in British prisons for terror offences, and three-quarters of those are categorized as Islamist extremists, 19 percent are far-right, with six percent categorized elsewhere.
Experts have warned that the planned review must lead to urgent action, or else risk the death of a prison officer at the hands of extremists.
Ian Acheson, a former prison governor who carried out the government’s 2016 review of Islamist extremism in jails, said he feared that a prison officer could be taken hostage and executed.
“I’m not at all satisfied from the evidence that we’ve seen that the prison service is on top of this problem,” he told The Independent. “We’ve come within millimeters of a prison officer being murdered by a terrorist in prison.
“Terrorism Act prisoners are very small in number but the harm they can cause to society is huge, and after countless failures of intelligence and security inside prisons we ought to have got on top of this now.
“There is something very wrong at the moment inside our high-security prisons and it would be deluded to suggest otherwise.”
A prison officer working in a high-security prison previously told The Independent that jails were being “run on chaos” and that staff did not have the capacity to monitor and tackle radicalization.
He said there was “no control” over extremist inmates in prison, adding: “I don’t see any end to the attacks whatsoever, those ones that come in with an extremist view leave with a stronger one.”