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Volume 594: debated on Monday 23 March 2015

Today I delivered a speech on the challenge of extremism in which I set out the need to develop a better understanding of the threat from extremism; to promote more assertively our values and the proposition that everybody living in this country is equal and free to lead their lives as they see fit; to ensure an effective response from the state; and to build up the capacity of civil society to identify, challenge and defeat extremism. I made it clear that the challenge to the extremists must be centred on a new partnership consisting of every single person and organisation in our country that wants to defeat extremism.

In the light of recent incidents, including that of the three young London girls who travelled to Syria, does the Secretary of State have any plans to set up a hotline for parents concerned about extremism, so that they can seek professional advice if they believe their children could be at risk, as is the case in Australia?

There are a number of opportunities available to families to report concern, including the anti-terrorist hotline. The Metropolitan police also made a further call to families last week to encourage them to report as early as possible, and organisations such as Families Against Stress and Trauma are actively working in communities to help people understand what they need to do when they are concerned about their children.

Will my right hon. Friend assure me that the next Conservative Government will introduce new powers to tackle extremists and groups that spread hate but do not break existing laws?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. We have looked at addressing the issue of those people and groups who act in a way that does not meet the current proscription threshold, and we will, indeed, introduce extremist banning orders and extremist disruption offers, which will do exactly what my hon. Friend says.

In her response to the hon. Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti), the Home Secretary referred to the three girls from Bethnal Green academy. When the first girl left in December, what specific assistance was given to the school by the Home Office?

Following the first girl leaving in December, assistance was given to the school by the local Prevent co-ordinator and the local authority’s schools officer, who went into the school to make arrangements for extra training to be given.

What steps is the Home Secretary taking to encourage police forces to record accurately and comprehensively incidences of Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslim victims, which Greater Manchester police is already doing?

The hon. Lady raises a very important point. The approach to recording hate crime has developed over the past five years and I am pleased that we are now able to see much more clearly what is happening. I was very clear in my speech today that this is an issue for a future Government, but a future Conservative Government would require the police to record anti-Muslim incidents as well as anti-Semitic incidents.