Why Would the UK Give Special Benefits to Terror Suspects?

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The Union Jack flys at half-mast at the Palace of Westminster. (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)
The Union Jack flys at half-mast at the Palace of Westminster. (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images)

The British government is weighing giving rent subsidies and other benefits to terror suspects, according to leaked government documents seen by The Mail on Sunday.

The plan, called Operation Constrain, will target 20,000 extremists previously investigated by the British government for possible terrorist links.

“We are planning a number of pilots to explore the best way to diverting such people from terrorism and extremist activity,” a government source told the Mail on Sunday.

The scheme, set to roll out next year, will focus only on “persons of interest,” who were investigated by M15, Britain’s secret service, but then dropped from surveillance. Police and social workers would contact them and speak to them about what how best to reintegrate them into society. A local panel would then determine what assistance would be most effective and what to provide. That could include a rent subsidy, priority for state-owned social housing, mental health support or job training.

It was not reported if the plan will include a deradicalization element to address possible dangerous beliefs.

News of the plan has prompted pushback. “This sounds like a reward for being on a list of potential terrorists. You can’t buy people’s loyalty to this country,” said Andrew Brigden, Conservative MP for north west Leicestershire, speaking to the press.

Others have pressed the government for more action to stop terror.

“The Government needs to put Londoners’ safety first: it must step up, stop dragging its feet and take urgent action,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan said last week, calling on the government to give more funding to the police.

A government source indicated the scheme could be expanded to include people who had travelled to Syria then returned to the UK.

It is unlikely it would include jihadis who are actively fighting for the Islamic State or other such groups. Government minister Rory Stewart said last week that when it comes to those under arms “unfortunately, the only way of dealing with them will be, in almost every case, to kill them.”




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