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Extremism and Radicalisation

Volume 611: debated on Monday 13 June 2016

We have improved our understanding of extremism and radicalisation. We have built partnerships with over 350 community groups and introduced the Prevent duty, and trained over 450,000 people since 2011. I have excluded over 100 hate preachers and worked with social media providers to remove over 180,000 pieces of terrorism-related content online since 2010.

I am grateful to the Home Secretary for that response. Ofsted admitted to me in a letter that it failed properly to inspect the Zakaria Muslim Girls High School in Batley in October 2015, run by a conservative Muslim sect, because the inspector felt unable to speak to pupils or staff—apparently, the inspector was told that it was Eid, when it was not actually Eid—despite the fact that the report commented on the school’s policies on radicalisation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we need to ensure that all Government agencies use every means at their disposal to drive out extremism from every corner of society?

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and the point of putting the Prevent duty on a statutory basis is to ensure that people in the public sector recognise their responsibility in dealing with extremism, in identifying extremism and ensuring that action is taken. We have seen from the Trojan horse example in education how important it is that all those responsible for ensuring that what is happening in schools is right and proper and that British values are being taught take that responsibility seriously and can fulfil it.

Will the Secretary of State explain why the Government have placed female genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour-based violence in the UK counter-extremism strategy?

Yes. It is because we have looked at ways in which people can operate within communities to try to create an attitude, particularly towards women in those communities, that effectively treats women as second-class citizens, which is counter to the British values that we have in our society as a whole. We take issues associated with forced marriage, so-called honour-based violence and female genital mutilation extremely seriously, and we have taken action against these issues. We want to see more action being taken in order to bring more prosecutions in these areas, but it is important that we recognise that there are some attitudes that help to create divisions in society. We do not want those divisions; we want to ensure that there is proper respect, regardless of gender, faith, background, class or ethnicity.

One of the best ways to stop extremism and radicalisation is to keep radicals and extremists out of the country in the first place. Often these people have a criminal record, although they may not necessarily show up on lists of terrorists. Can the Home Secretary confirm that when an EU citizen arrives at one of our borders, their passport is checked against the criminal record check bureau of their own country? Is that happening?

I have made it plain to my hon. Friend on a number of occasions that the information we have at our borders through our membership of Schengen Information System II in the European Union is an important strand of information which enables our border officials and others to make decisions about individuals who are coming across the border. I am sure that, as my hon. Friend says, he does not want people who are preaching extremism to come into the United Kingdom, so I hope that he will congratulate the Government on the fact that as Home Secretary I have excluded more hate preachers from this country than any previous Home Secretary.

First, may I join others in condemning the despicable acts in Orlando? We should be clear that these are homophobic and criminal acts.

There is ongoing concern that rather than defeating Daesh, the military action in Syria has merely displaced criminals and terrorists to other parts of the region and in many ways encouraged people to engage in acts closer to home. What action has been taken to address these developments? Can we be reassured that action to tackle such behaviour will not wholly eclipse the good efforts of many to prevent extremism at source in this country?

The hon. Lady is right to say that there are many good efforts being made in communities to prevent extremism within communities. The Government want to support that and to give voice to those mainstream voices working to promote the values that we share across our society. In relation to the threat from Daesh and the threat from Islamist terrorism, we of course watch carefully how matters are developing. It is the case that the threat arises from specific groups, from people who are inspired by groups, not just Daesh but al-Qaeda as well, and people who may be inspired online on the internet. That is why it is so important that we deal not just with physical presence, but with the bigoted ideology that underlies the terrorist threat, because it is only by dealing with that ideology that we will be able to deal with the terrorist threat.

In the light of last week’s conviction of the man who launched an unprovoked knife attack at Leytonstone tube station, and some unverified reports that the Orlando shooter suffered from bipolar disorder, we should be mindful of the Royal United Services Institute’s estimate that in 35% of cases of lone wolf terrorism, there was an indication of a mental health disorder. What action has the Home Secretary taken, and what information and guidance have been issued to GPs and other health professionals on assessing the risks of radicalisation of their patients?

I referred earlier to the Prevent duty, which covers the whole of the public sector. That is why we have been conducting significant training within the public sector, including in the health service, about issues associated with radicalisation. Alongside that, I am sure that, given her question, the hon. Lady will welcome the parity of esteem that the Government are now giving to mental health and physical health inside the NHS.