The Government’s new counter-extremism strategy: a summary

The Government introduced a new counter-extremism strategy on 19 October. The Government had previously introduced a new statutory Prevent duty in order that all local authorities, schools, universities and colleges, NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, police, probation services and prisons should be clear that they must take action to prevent people being drawn into terrorism [38].

According to the new announcement, the counter-extremism strategy builds on that work; but it also recognises that the need to go further:

“We must counter the ideology of non-violent and violent extremists alike. We must continue our efforts to tackle neo-Nazi as well as Islamist extremism and respond better to the growing problems of hate crime in our communities. Just as important is addressing the underlying problem of segregated and isolated communities that can provide an environment in which extremism can take root” [39].

To deal with the broad challenge of extremism the Government will focus on four areas:

  • Countering extremism.
  • Building a partnership with all those opposed to extremism.
  • Disrupting extremists.
  • Building a more cohesive society [40].

The overriding purpose of this strategy is to protect people from the harm caused by extremism. The Government will work in partnership with all those dedicated to tackling extremists, wherever possible acting locally [41].

The strategy focuses on extremism at home but recognises that the flow of people, ideology and money is increasingly international. Building a more robust international response to counter extremism and strengthening international bodies will be a key priority for UK diplomatic missions, working through international institutions such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the European Union and through government and civil society partners. In particular, this will include steps to:

  • counter extremist ideology;
  • build partnerships with all those opposed to extremism; and
  • disrupt extremists.

The Government will work with international partners to support implementation of the United Nations Secretary General’s Action Plan on Preventing Violent Extremism; and aid programmes will address the underlying drivers, enablers and narratives of extremism, particularly through efforts to build stability and security overseas [44 & 45].

The Home Office’s Extremism Analysis Unit will work closely with academics and universities, commissioning and part- funding research and with the FCO and DFID [46 & 47].

The Government will commission an independent review to understand the extent to which shari’a is being misused or applied in a way which is incompatible with the law. This is expected to provide an initial report to the Home Secretary in 2016 [48].

The Government will therefore carry out a full review to ensure all institutions are safeguarded from the risk posed by entryism, to report in 2016 and look across the public sector, including schools, further and higher education colleges, local authorities, the NHS and the civil service [49].

Work to counter the ideology will:

  • continue to challenge the extremist argument;
  • confront the underlying weakness of the extremist ideology;
  • promote a positive alternative; and
  • support vulnerable young people [59].

The Government will implement a counter-ideology campaign at pace and scale focused on:

  • Contesting the online space
  • Strengthening our institutions
  • Supporting individuals at particular risk of radicalisation
  • Building a partnership with all those opposed to extremism [60].

A fundamental shift in the scale and nature of the response is required to match the huge increase in extremists’ use of the internet. Therefore, the Government will continue to:

  • support a network of credible commentators to challenge the extremists and put forward mainstream views online;
  • train a wide range of civil society groups to help them build and maintain a compelling online presence;
  • run a national programme to make young people more resilient to the risks of radicalisation online and provide schools and teachers with more support to address the risk posed by online radicalisation; and
  • build awareness in civil society groups and the public to empower internet users to report extremist content [65].

The new Prevent duty ensures that specified institutions have a responsibility to prevent people being drawn into terrorism when carrying out their day-to-day functions: the Government will keep the list of institutions under review and expand it if necessary [69].

To address concerns about supplementary schools, the Department for Education will introduce a new system to enable intervention in unregulated education settings which teach children intensively. This intervention will apply if there are concerns about the safety or welfare of the children attending them, including from extremism. This will provide for the registration of settings so that they can be inspected and will introduce appropriate sanctions to protect children [74].

Because charities can be exploited by extremists, the Protection of Charities and Social Investment Bill will create a new power for the Commission to disqualify a trustee for wider reasons, including where their conduct – past or present – would damage the public’s trust and confidence in charities [79 to 81].

Specifically in relation to faith communities:

“The Department for Communities and Local Government is therefore commissioning a new programme of support to help faith institutions to establish strong governance. The programme aims to strengthen and support places of worship of all faiths in order to improve governance, increase their capacity to engage with women and young people, challenge intolerance and develop resilience to extremism. The programme will provide training on key issues alongside support for faith institutions facing specific challenges [86].

It is not government’s role to regulate faith leaders, but government does have a responsibility to ensure that those working in the public sector are suitably trained. The Government will therefore work in partnership with faith groups to review the training provided to those who work as faith leaders in public institutions” [87].

The Government will review rules on citizenship [104]

The Government will introduce new powers to ban extremist organisations that promote hatred and draw people into extremism, restrict the harmful activities of the most dangerous extremist individuals and restrict access to premises repeatedly used to support extremism [112].

In order to help parents protect their children from radicalisation, the Government has set up a scheme under which parents can cancel the passport of a child at risk of travelling overseas to join a terrorist group [118]. It also proposes to strengthen the role of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to enable employers to identify extremists and stop them working with children and other vulnerable groups. The Government will review eligibility for DBS services to ensure that they cover the full range of activity where vulnerable people and young people are at risk from extremists [119].

Cite this article as: Frank Cranmer, "The Government’s new counter-extremism strategy: a summary" in Law & Religion UK, 19 October 2015, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2015/10/19/the-governments-new-counter-extremism-strategy-a-summary/

3 thoughts on “The Government’s new counter-extremism strategy: a summary

  1. Pingback: The Government’s new counter-extremism strategy: a summary – Law and Relgion | Fulcrum Anglican

  2. The hypocrisy of the UK government (beginning with the Blair administration) of setting up in England state funded sectarian schools to encourage religious apartheid in the education of our children… then claim to wish for a more cohesive society… is unspeakable. In Wales our government invests in Community Schools. Victorian state funded schools “of a religious character” are left to wither on the vine.

    • In fairness to the Blair Government (guilty of a lot of things but not of this) there were state-funded sectarian schools in England long, long before Tony Blair was even born.

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