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HMP Chief Inspector criticises "prison within a prison" conditions at Long Lartin

HMP Chief Inspector criticises "prison within a prison" conditions at Long Lartin

Categories: Latest News

Thursday August 18 2011

The BBC covers the report by the Chief Inspector of HM Prisons on the conditions of detainees held at the terror unit at Long Lartin prison, in Worcestershire.

Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, has criticized the “prison within a prison” conditions under which several detainees suspected of terrorism offences, but not charged, are held.

From the BBC:

“The Long Lartin detainee unit is separate from the main prison and the men, all accused of links to Islamist extremism, are held in maximum-security conditions.

“Two foreign men have been held for more than 11 years, while one British citizen, Babar Ahmad, has been held for seven years, while he contests extradition to the United States.

“Nick Hardwick, the chief inspector of prisons, said: “We have previously raised concerns about holding a small number of detainees, who already inhabit a kind of legal limbo, in a severely restricted environment for a potentially indefinite period.

“We were therefore concerned to find that the detainees were no longer able to mix with the wider prison population. These restrictions had apparently been made on security grounds, although the rationale appeared obscure as sentenced terrorists faced no such restriction in the main prison and not all detainees posed the same level of risk.”

“The restrictions on the men now include a ban on them celebrating the Islamic festival of Eid alongside other Muslim prisoners.

“Mr Hardwick said that given the “isolated nature” of the secure unit, the detainees did not have enough time out of their cells.

“The risks to the mental and physical health of detainees of such lengthy, ill-defined and isolated confinement are significant,” he said.”

The Daily Mail meanwhile covers the same report under the odious headline Our prison walls are too high to look over, moan terror suspects”.

The Daily Mail appears rather more concerned with the cost of incarcerating the men than it is with the issue of some of the men being imprisoned for 11 years on suspicion for terrorism offences but never being charged.

From the DM:

“The high-security detainee unit at Long Lartin holds seven suspected terrorists.

“Three are foreign nationals whom ministers want to deport to their home countries.

“The other four are awaiting the outcome of legal challenges to extradition requests by the U.S.

“They are thought to include Babar Ahmed, whose case is being considered by the European Court of Human Rights.

“Two of the men have been held for more than 11 years as they fight deportation, at a cost of more than £1.6million.

“The average cost of a place in a high-security prison is £74,000 per year.”

Quite outrageous. You can write to the Daily Mail on [email protected] or post a comment via the feedback box on the online page.

You can sign the petition launched by Babar Ahmad’s family to halt his extradition proceedings and put him on trial in the UK, here.

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