More than 100 fanatics are on anti-terror scheme: Calls grow for review of de-radicalisation programme that Usman Khan was placed on amid fears public could be put at risk
- 110 convicts/suspects subject to Desistance and Disengagement Programme
- Number of freed extremists in Home Office’s ‘detoxification’ strategy has soared
- Questions were being asked last night over whether public are being protected
- Khan was taking part in the programme when he killed two people in cold blood
Usman Khan (pictured) was taking part in the Desistance and Disengagement Programme when he slaughtered two people
Calls are growing for an urgent review of a counter-radicalisation scheme that Usman Khan was on before he launched the London Bridge terror attack.
Figures obtained by the Mail show that at least 110 convicted and suspected terrorists are subject to the Desistance and Disengagement Programme.
The number of freed extremists engaged in the Home Office’s secretive ‘detoxification’ strategy has soared over the past two years and questions were being asked last night over whether the public are being protected.
Khan was taking part in the programme when he slaughtered two people in cold blood at a prisoner rehabilitation conference.
Developed while Theresa May was home secretary, it was launched in 2016.
According to figures released under freedom of information rules, four individuals went on the programme during its initial six months in 2016-17.
That rose to 64 in 2017-18, then to 110 in 2018-19.
The number of freed extremists engaged in the Home Office’s secretive ‘detoxification’ strategy has soared over the past two years and questions were being asked last night over whether the public are being protected. Pictured: The London Bridge terror attack on Friday
The number is now expected to be even higher as more terror convicts are freed from jail.
Official figures show that 97 were released in the two years to March. Spending has rocketed from £1million in the first full year of the programme to £3.3million a year now.
‘Shocked’ Khan family condemn jihadi killer
The family of London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan condemned his actions last night.
Speaking for the first time since the attack, relatives said they were ‘saddened and shocked’ after he stabbed to death Cambridge graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, and injured three others.
They added: ‘We totally condemn his actions and we wish to express our condolences to the families of the victims.’
Mr Merritt’s girlfriend Leanne O’Brien paid an emotional tribute to him yesterday. Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator for a programme aimed at helping offenders.
Miss Jones was a volunteer. Miss O’Brien wrote on Facebook: ‘My love, you are phenomenal and have opened so many doors for those that society turned their backs on.’
- Major public venues will be required to increase security against possible terror attacks under plans to be announced by Boris Johnson today. It follows demands from families of victims of the 2017 Manchester Arena suicide bombing that killed 22.
Mohibur Rahman, who was jailed alongside Khan in 2012, is also believed to have been on the programme.
Rahman was released from his first jail term in 2015 but while serving part of his sentence at Belmarsh high security prison in south-east London he became friends with two men with whom he plotted to launch attacks against military targets across the UK.
Rahman is now serving life following his conviction in 2017.
Another participant in the DPP is believed to have been Yahya Rashid, who was jailed for five years in 2015 after trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State.
He was released halfway through his prison term last year.
The 23-year-old, from north London, was sent back to jail this week after police discovered he had been hiding a phone from the authorities – a breach of his licence conditions.
Tory candidate Tim Loughton, who sat on the Commons home affairs committee, said: ‘It is important that ministers review how effective this rehabilitation programme is and whether it is value for money.
‘Until we are absolutely convinced some terrorists do not pose a threat to the public, we should err on the side of keeping people safe and keeping them locked up.’
The scheme is compulsory for anyone released from prison for terror-related offences, for those on Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures and for returning fighters and jihadi brides who cannot be prosecuted for lack of evidence.
Dr Paul Stott of the Henry Jackson Society, a security think-tank, said: ‘The murderous terrorist act committed by Usman Khan requires a root and branch re-examination of our counter-extremism programmes.
Mohibur Rahman (left), who was jailed alongside Khan in 2012, is also believed to have been on the programme. Another participant in the DPP is believed to have been Yahya Rashid (right), who was jailed for five years in 2015 after trying to travel to Syria to join Islamic State
‘Part of that discussion needs to be whether the Desistance and Disengagement Programme for those on licence should be separate from the programmes individuals have started (and presumably passed) while in prison.
‘Continuity and consistency may suggest there is a benefit to uniting the programmes.’
He added: ‘The huge cost currently expended on DPP also makes it imperative it is clear that government interventions towards extremists are properly joined up.’