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Convicted Islamist terrorists in the UK who are released on parole will face compulsory therapy sessions with moderate imams or be sent back into prison, a media report claimed on Sunday.
According to UK Home Office documents seen by ‘The Sunday Times’, the new “Desistance and Disengagement Programme” will initially focus on those who have been convicted under the Terrorism Act.
The “individually tailored” scheme is then expected to be expanded to include British fighters and so-called “jihadi brides” who have returned from war zones such as Syria.
“This programme will continue to develop over the next year or so. It could well be broadened to apply to those returning from Syria who the police and security services may suspect of wrongdoing, but who they don’t have enough evidence against to put on trial for national security related offences,” the newspaper quoted a source as saying.
The programme will be piloted for 12 months from October, initially focusing on 20 people who have either been released on licence (with an electronic tag) or are shortly expected to be.
Unlike the UK government’s voluntary Channel programme, which aims to intercept people before they embrace radical Islam or become jihadists, the new scheme will be mandatory for convicted terrorists who have been released on licence.
Those who fail to attend could be recalled to prison. “This deradicalisation programme is very much going to be part of the licence conditions for these fairly dangerous individuals who have already engaged in terrorist-related activity,” a counter-terrorism source told the newspaper.
“The mentors, known as intervention providers, will have to report to the Home Office on a monthly basis about how these offenders are responding to the treatment. Those who fail to attend the session will be in breach of their licence condition and will be recalled to jail,” he added.
The programme, which was developed while Theresa May was home secretary and which will be coordinated by the Office for Security and Counter terrorism at the Home Office, will involve several UK government departments, including the National Offender Management Service, which will refer individuals to the scheme.