Segregated detention of terrorists works

The concentration of radical detainees in dedicated Terrorist Units is proving effective. That is the conclusion of various investigations into the functioning of these units. The policy being pursued links up with international developments, and the units have built up substantial expertise over the years. The State Secretary for Security and Justice, Klaas Dijkhoff, today informed the Dutch House of Representatives [Tweede Kamer] that the policy was therefore going to be continued. A new assessment tool is being developed which will allow the authorities to determine, from case to case, what will be most effective for each detainee. Dijkhoff's intention is to prevent detainees leaving the Terrorist Units even more radicalised than they went in.

There are two special Terrorist Units in the Netherlands at present: one at the prison in Vught and one at De Schie (Rotterdam). Detainees are accommodated in these units if they are suspected of a terrorism-linked crime, have been convicted of such a crime or had been disseminating terrorist ideology. The aim of the two units is to prevent the spread of radical ideology in Dutch prisons.

Recent research has confirmed that the concentration of this type of detainee is effective, as it helps restrict the spread of dangerous ideology. State Secretary Dijkhoff will therefore continue to detain those suspected or convicted of terrorism-linked crimes in a special unit. In the course of recent years, the knowhow and expertise necessary to work with this special group of detainees has been built up within these units.

Research has also shown that the detainees in the Terrorist Units vary widely. There is a wide range of crimes involved, and there are big differences in the detainees' behaviour, beliefs, missionary zeal, intelligence, psychological state, their criminal record, tendency to violence and their charisma. That is the reason the assessment tool is being developed, so that the degree of radicalisation can be appraised more accurately. The tool will also make it possible to better estimate the dissemination and security risks of each individual. That means that during his or her stay in the unit the detainee can take part in a more personalised programme aimed at a safe return to society. A first version of the assessment tool is expected to be ready by the autumn.

Dijkhoff: "By segregating radicalised detainees we can prevent dangerous ideology spreading, and we shall continue to do that. But within this group I want to vary the approach so that we can be even more effective. It is not our intention to allow extremists to become even more extreme because of their stay in prison."