Boris Johnson was personally warned about the danger of freeing people convicted or terror offences without long-term investment in deradicalisation programmes in 2016, but he dismissed the threat over “lack of money”.
In the wake of the terror attack around London Bridge by convicted terrorist Usman Khan Johnson has tried to distance himself from the effects of Conservative cuts to police numbers and lack of investment in the criminal justice system. However, after a decade of Tory rule, with services cut to the bone Britain is more vulnerable than ever.
The former chief prosecutor for North West England, Nazir Afzal, explained that he met Johnson in June 2016 shortly before he was appointed Foreign Secretary and warned him that terrorists were being released without being deradicalised.
The full exchange, as described by Afzal, went as follows:
Johnson: “What in the justice system keeps you awake?”
Afzal: “Lack of money.”
Johnson: “Apart from that?”
Afzal: “That terrorists from a decade ago were due to be released still radicalised”
Johnson: “Is there anything we can do about that?”
Afzal: “It’s resources for one-to-one mentoring and deradicalisation”
Johnson “But that’s money again.”
Johnson did not find the additional funding to help with deradicalisation and mentoring when foreign secretary and has made no mention of any such policies since becoming prime minister.
Following the attack on Friday, Johnson has tried to score political points by saying he would increase the length of sentences of convicted terrorists and stop them receiving automatic early release. However, these measures would not address the issue of deradicalisation.
In prison, terrorists are a threat to the rest of the prison population as they have been shown to radicalise those around them. And when they are released, if they are not deradicalised will remain a threat to the British public.
One of the two victims of the London Bridge attack, Jack Merritt, worked with Learning Together on prisoner rehabilitation and following the attack his father called on politicians not to use his deaths “as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily”. Johnson has done the opposite.