Convicted terrorists less likely to reoffend than other criminals

New research has claimed that convicted terrorists are extremely unlikely to reoffend compared with other prisoners.

Carried out by academics and security services in Belgium, the study shows that less than five per cent of  convicted terrorists commit a second terrorist offence after leaving prison. In England and Wales, approximately 45 per cent of all prisoners will reoffend within a year of release.

Less than three per cent of the 557 individuals in Belgium included in the study were convicted a second time of a terrorist offence, and less than five per cent returned to extremist activities after being released from prison. Te Belgian counter-terrorism services also showed that 84 per cent of male returnees from Syria and 95 per cent of women returnees had distanced themselves from extremism.

The forthcoming release of thousands of extremists imprisoned for terrorist offences has worried security services in the UK and across Europe. There are over 4,000 inmates in western Europe who are either returning foreign fighters, convicted terrorists, radicalised inmates or considered ‘vulnerable to radicalisation’. There are about 1,700 in France, of whom 90 per cent will be released within five years, and 700 in the UK.

The UK recently passed a law ensuring that people convicted of serious terrorist offences will no longer automatically be released halfway through their sentences, following two high-profile attacks by men who had recently left prison.

Thomas Renard, author of the new research, said: “These evaluations, together with the literature on terrorist recidivism, tend to suggest that most terrorist convicts simply do not seek to return to their ‘old habits,’ contrary to the dominant perception.”


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