The 2005 Act
I recommend that the Ministry of Justice give consideration to amending section 21 of the 2005 Act to include the express provision for requiring a potential witness to participate in an interview.
I recommend that the Ministry of Justice, possibly in conjunction with the Law Commission, give consideration to amending section 36 of the 2005 Act to make provision for issuing pre‑emptive enforcement proceedings for witnesses in relation to whom there are reasonable grounds to believe that they will not co‑operate.
I also recommend that consideration be given to the creation of statutory powers under section 36 that can be used to prevent a material witness to an inquiry putting themselves beyond the reach of the existing powers to compel a witness’s attendance. One such power, which would have assisted in the cases of Ismail Abedi and Ahmed Taghdi, would be a short‑term restriction on the use of a witness’s passport prior to attending to give evidence when required.
I recommend that the Crown Prosecution Service establish a written protocol in relation to its approach to any application from an inquiry Chairman for a section 35 prosecution to be taken over under section 6(2) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.
I recommend that the Home Office give consideration to addressing the difficulties in extradition in relation to an offence under section 35, given that the maximum sentence for such an offence is below the minimum qualifying threshold for extradition.
I am not making any recommendation in relation to the acquisition of precursor chemicals. This is deliberate. I am satisfied that the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament is seized of this issue and ensuring that as much as can be done is being done.
Preventing extremist prisoners from radicalising those who visit them should be the subject of its own scheme. Under the existing categorisation scheme, this cannot effectively be achieved. That is because a prisoner’s category is determined by their escape risk. The risk that a prisoner poses in terms of radicalising visitors is unrelated to the risk of escape. It requires a different, parallel system.
I recommend that the Home Office consider introducing a system based on a robust assessment of the risk a prisoner poses for radicalisation of others. This system should allow for proportionate restrictions to be applied to visitors to that person. Controls such as prohibiting vulnerable visitors where justified or ensuring conversations are supervised should be among the options available in the case of a prisoner who poses a particular risk to others. [MR22]
I recommend that the scheme be codified, and clear policy and guidance be published so that it can be applied consistently across the prison estate. [MR23]
I intend to monitor these Recommendations.
Operating with impunity
In 2021, the Commission for Countering Extremism published a report entitled Operating with Impunity. Hateful Extremism: The Need for a Legal Framework.
I recommend that the Home Office consider and respond to this document as a matter of urgency.
No one involved in SA’s education had a sufficient overview of his character, family situation or potential risk factors over a long‑enough period of time to recognise his radicalisation and take any action to intervene. This was due in part to the lack of any continuity or transfer of information about behaviour between educational institutions.
I recommend that the Department for Education consider whether schools should include notes of any significant behavioural problems on the Common Transfer File, or some other suitable new form of record which follows a student if they move school. The focus should be on any behaviour that may be indicative of violent extremism, such as physical aggression or misogynistic conduct. This kind of behaviour is consistent with the development of a violent extremist mindset, but is not necessarily an indication of it by any means. Details as to what nature of incident and level of seriousness should be included in such a record will therefore require careful thought by the Department for Education, alongside consultation with relevant stakeholders. [MR24]
I recommend to all educational establishments and the Department for Education that images of school pupils or college students handling firearms, explosives or other weapons that come to the attention of staff be recorded as a potential indicator of violent extremism, unless there is a very clear innocent explanation, so that this can be taken into account in any assessment of vulnerability to radicalisation. [MR25]
A clean start should be possible when a student moves from school to college or higher education, such that it would not be appropriate for a general file on significant behavioural problems to follow them at that point. However, there may still be value in passing on a record of any behaviour that is assessed to indicate vulnerability to radicalisation.
I recommend that the Department for Education consider whether this is workable and, as with the school record, what nature of incident and level of seriousness should be included in this kind of record. [MR26]
I intend to monitor these Recommendations.
Recommendation areas addressed by the closed report
In Volume 3‑I (closed), I identify areas in which I intend to make suitable recommendations. Following a period of consultation, I intend to make recommendations in those areas. These will be published in Volume 3‑II (closed).
Once those recommendations are settled, I intend to publish a gist of the areas covered, to the extent that it is possible.