Terrorism is a ticking time bomb while the UK is distracted by Brexit
Affected Countries: united-kingdom;
A Question Time audience member argued “politicians have been distracted by Brexit” and ignored other issues like terrorism – with anti-early release legislation set to be rushed through after the Streatham attack.
Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said yesterday the Government will bring forward emergency legislation to end early release of terrorist prisoners “at the earliest opportunity”.
Sudesh Amman, 20, injured three people during a knife rampage in Streatham High Road on Sunday afternoon before being shot dead by undercover police officers.
He had been released from prison a matter of weeks prior to the incident, having served less than half of his sentence for terror offences.
On Thursday’s episode of the BBC One programme, panelists were asked: “Is stopping the automatic early release of terrorists enough or is it just postponing the problem?”
Actor and campaigner Adam Pearson reiterated the audience member’s reference to Brexit, that “we have all been distracted for the last three-and-a-half years and everything else just appears to have flown off the radar”.
“And now I’m afraid it’s coming back to bite. And it’s biting very hard.”
He went on to say, if we are waiting to try and decriminalise terror offenders in prison, “the horse has already bolted” and instead needs to be dealt with at a much earlier stage.
“Find out how are these people being radicalised on the outside and deal with that – what’s causing it and what are the social factors…because people just get more radicalised in prison, they don’t help it makes it worse and if you leave them in prisons longer they are just going to have more time to be radicalised.
“We’ve got the horse and the cart the complete wrong way round,” he added.
Labour MP Stella Creasy said the issue is first and foremost down to a lack of funding with “40 per cent administrative cuts on these people who are trying to deal with these problems”.
She said the issue of terrorism in the UK as a “ticking time bomb” and referred to an independent review in 2016 which warned the government there was a major issue with inmates becoming radicalised that the prisons couldn’t cope with.
She said some criminals go into prison for other minor offences and “then become radicalised in prison as well – we need to be able to deal with all these issues”.
“It’s really frightening for all of us to be in a position where we are trying to make legislation on the hoof to deal with such serious issues when we have had the evidence about what needs to be done.
“You need to have a fight with the treasury if we are really going to crack this because you can’t do public safety on the cheap,” she added.
Addressing fellow panelist Conservative Justice Secretary and former prisons minister, Robert Buckland, Liberal Democrat acting leader Edward Davey said prison management systems are in a “shocking state” and agreed the government needs to “get in early”.
“Independent report after independent report shows that and you are not going to deal with this problem unless you sort out the way the prisons are managed,” he said.
Journalist Rachel Shabi argued the government has not listened to “any experts across the field” and flipped Mr Buckland’s statement by describing those in charge as “the risk” to our safety.
Referring to cuts to police, the CPS and prisons, she added: “What did you think would happen when you savaged the system to that extent? Of course, this is a problem of funding, and it is expensive, law and order public safety costs money, you have to be willing to invest in it and clearly this government is not.”
One audience member added a lot of future terrorists are growing up “with a diet in their childhood of hatred” – and was sceptical of what values the government is trying to teach them in their decriminalisation programmes.
In relation to the proposed legislation, meanwhile, Mr Rees-Mogg indicated earlier on Thursday this could be next week before MPs go on recess, although time has been allotted in the last week of February for as yet unnamed legislation to be scrutinised.
During business questions, he told MPs: “This legislation will be introduced at the earliest opportunity and it is with that in mind that I may need to return the House early next week to make a further business statement.”
Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz said Labour would work on a cross-party basis on the new legislation and “would look carefully at what the Government has to say”.
She added: “We on this side say that terrorist prisoners should not automatically be released but should be subject to parole board assessment before release during their sentences.”