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3 February 2020

What we must learn from the terror attack in Streatham

What happens inside British prisons is as big a worry as the speed in which people leave them.

By Stephen Bush

For the second time in less than a year, the streets of London have been the scene of a terror attack, with two left injured and a third in critical condition after a knife attack in Streatham. Adding to the unwelcome note of familiarity is the fact that the perpetrator, who was shot dead by police, had been recently released from prison having been convicted of terror offences, much like in November’s attack in London Bridge, when the perpetrator was on day release. 

The story of the London Bridge and Streatham attacks is one where the government has a clear answer – people have been let out of prison too quickly with too little oversight – and a clear solution, with a package of measures announced last year, which will be put into legislation over the coming weeks.

But as Louise Haigh, the shadow policing minister who must surely be on everybody’s list of possible shadow home secretaries, pointed out on Radio 4’s Westminster Hour last night, what happens inside British prisons is as big a worry as the speed in which people leave them, and there is every possibility that the attacker left prison “more dangerous” than he went in. The story of both the London Bridge and Streatham attacks is a failure of deradicalisation programmes in prison, but the story of the next terror attack may well be a story of the radicalisation that goes on inside of them.

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