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Deradicalisation of Prisoners: Longer Sentences

Volume 672: debated on Tuesday 25 February 2020

3. What assessment he has made of the effect of longer prison sentences on the deradicalisation of prisoners. (900813)

In order to protect the public, it is vital that those who are convicted of terrorism offences serve a longer proportion of their prison sentence in prison and are subject to release after an assessment by the Parole Board. Experience shows that the path towards deradicalisation is very complex, and interventions need to be provided over a significant period to have an impact on rehabilitation.

I am grateful for that answer, but surely the purpose of putting someone who needs to be deradicalised in prison and lengthening their sentence has to be to give a greater opportunity for deradicalisation. What resources will be made available to people serving longer sentences to make that deradicalisation effective?

The hon. Member will know that in January we announced a £90 million package of measures to counter extremism. Within that, there is a £3 million package for specialist intervention—counter-terrorism programmes and intervention centres—to build an evidence base for what works. We are also training our prison officers to assess when there are incidents, report them and challenge terrorist behaviour.

When the Lord Chancellor introduced the Bill to curtail the early release of prisoners with his usual mix of alacrity and wisdom, I suggested on Second Reading, based on information from the House of Commons Library, that about 160 people might have been released early. Since then, having received further advice from our excellent Library experts, it has become clear that the Home Office quarterly report does not distinguish between early release and all release. Will the Minister take the opportunity to set the record straight by telling the House exactly how many prisoners have been released before serving their full custodial term of sentence in each year since 2013?

My right hon. Friend has a lot of experience in this area, having been the Minister for Security, and I was very pleased to work with him on the Investigatory Powers Bill. He is right to highlight that very important point. We are looking into this matter and I am very happy to write to him with the precise details in due course.

The Minister will know that the Prime Minister David Cameron asked me to carry out a review of disproportionality in the justice system. It showed a very worrying rise not just in disproportionality for all ethnic minorities but in the Muslim population in our prisons. Will the Minister ask the Secretary of State to meet me to discuss the Department’s progress on the review, a review that successive Secretaries of State have taken very seriously?

We were very happy to receive the right hon. Member’s review in 2017 on ethnic minority individuals in the criminal justice system and have acted on many of its recommendations. We recently published an update on progress across the Lammy recommendations, which demonstrates a range of work. I am very happy to meet him. I do not make that offer on behalf of the Secretary of State—[Interruption.] I hear that the Secretary of State is also happy to meet him to discuss the very important work on this area.