The gunman identified as a French national, who was killed by police in Champs-Elysees minutes after he opened fire on a police van, was report to have served several years in prison for firing on police officers with a gun in the early 2000s.

Thursday's attack, which was like déjà vu, may have added impetus to assertions that serving a jail term was not enough to deter an individual from crime and the fear that extremists in jail may begin the radicalisation of inmates is also rising. 

In the United Kingdom, this fear is being confirmed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) which said on Friday it would begin separating dangerous extremists from the mainstream prison population in Britain.

Can It Tackle Extremism?

The MoJ said three separation centres would be created, and would form part of the wider government strategy to tackle extremism in prisons.

China’s news agency, Xinhua reports that the new rules, published by Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the MoJ, Sam Gyimah, will see the new separation centres holding the most subversive offenders to prevent them from influencing other prisoners.

An amendment to prison rules has been laid before the British Parliament on Friday so the authorities could place prisoners in the new centres if they were involved in planning terrorism, or are considered to pose a risk to national security.

“Those who are spreading views that might encourage or influence others to commit terrorism crimes, or anyone whose views are being used in a way which undermines good order and security in prisons, may also be placed in one of the centres,” said an MoJ spokesman in London.

The first centre will be up and running at Frankland Prison in northeast England in the coming weeks, with two further units to follow at other prison establishments.

British prison and Paris Attack

Gyimah said: “Any form of extremism must be defeated wherever it is found, and it is right that we separate those who pose the greatest risk in order to limit their influence over other prisoners.

“These centres are a crucial part of our wider strategy to help tackle extremism in prisons and ensure the safety and security of both our prisons and the wider public”.

Once in a centre, prisoners will be reviewed by experts every three months and will only be returned to the mainstream prison population if it is considered that the risk they present has reduced.

The centres form part of the wider strategy to tackle extremism, which includes the formation of a new directorate for security, order and counter-terrorism, responsible for monitoring and dealing with the evolving threat of extremism.

It will also see extremist literature being banned from prisons, and the removal of anyone from communal worship who is promoting dangerous views.

In addition, a new training package to identify, report and combat extremism is to be rolled out to all prison officers.