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Prison Governors

Volume 605: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2016

Our prison system needs reform, and, in particular, we need to give governors greater freedoms to innovate to find better ways of rehabilitating offenders.

In December, the outgoing chief inspector of prisons said that he was concerned about Islamic extremism in prisons. In some prisons, including in Long Lartin in my constituency, the Muslim population is as high as 40% of inmates. What additional powers or support are the Government giving to tackle religious extremism?

My hon. Friend makes an important point. Radicalisation in prison is a genuine danger not just in England, but across the European Union. That is why we have charged a former prison governor, Ian Acheson, with reviewing how we handle not just the security concerns, but the dangerous spread of peer-to-peer radicalisation in our prisons. It is also the case that, in appointing a new chief inspector to follow on from the excellent work of Nick Hardwick, the experience of Peter Clarke in this particular area will count very much in his favour.

I welcome the steps that have been taken to tackle radicalisation in prisons, but the problem exists once people come outside prisons. In a previous report of the Home Affairs Committee, we talked about the need to monitor people when they come outside. Will the Secretary of State ensure that there remains that connection with the Home Office, so that those who have had lessons or initiatives to do with counter-radicalisation are able to continue with them when they get outside?

Absolutely. I make it my business to talk regularly to the Home Secretary about this issue, as we share the concerns of the right hon. Gentleman. I also know that the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) and the Minister for Security, my right hon. Friend the Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes) meet regularly to ensure that we do everything possible to monitor the matter. Across the House, there is a recognition that we must deal not only with violent extremism, but with extremism itself. Those who seek to radicalise and to inject the poison of Islamism into the minds of young men need to be countered every step of the way.