Skip to main content

Countering Extremist Views

Volume 657: debated on Monday 1 April 2019

The Government are committed to supporting community organisations to counter all forms of extremism. Through our £63 million Building a Stronger Britain Together programme, we are supporting over 230 civil society groups to stand up to extremism in all communities.

In the light of the recent terrorist atrocity in Christchurch, New Zealand, there is a renewed focus on the worrying increase in far-right-related terror in the UK. What role can community organisations play in identifying and preventing potentially vulnerable individuals from being radicalised into supporting these far-right acts?

I am sure the thoughts of the whole House are still with the victims of the terrible terrorist attack in Christchurch. I would like to reassure my hon. Friend that our Prevent programme works with a range of organisations, including many community groups, to safeguard individuals from radicalisation. Last year, almost one quarter of Prevent referrals were related to far-right extremism. I want to reassure her and the whole House that we will continue to do all we can to fight extremism in all its forms.

As the Home Secretary will be only too well aware, access to EU databases is vital to protecting our country, yet we could be just 11 days from a no-deal Brexit, which the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police has described as potentially putting people at risk. Is she right?

If we leave the EU with no deal, of course there will be a change to the tools we use with our European friends. For over two years now, but especially in the last six months, we have been working with them both bilaterally and using other tools, such as Interpol and the Council of Europe, which together will still keep us safe.

Extremist views take root more easily when the communities involved feel beleaguered or at odds with the rest of society—that is one reason I disagree with the Home Secretary on the Shamima Begum case. Has the Home Office researched the attitudes of the various communities in Britain to its own counter-terrorism policy, both legislative and operational?

My right hon. Friend raises an important issue. It is very important that the Home Office, in all its counter-extremism and counter-terrorism work, continues to engage with communities at all times and in various ways—I have met many community leaders; we have had recent roundtables with members of the Jewish community on antisemitism and with members of our Muslim community on anti-Muslim hate crime; and I have attended Prevent boards and panels to see the work they do—but we are always looking at what more we can do, because having the confidence of all these communities is essential.

In the aftermath of the appalling Christchurch attack, I met leaders of five mosques in my constituency yesterday, and they are understandably very worried about the possibility of further radical attacks, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan, when the community will be especially visible. They are very appreciative of the announcement of additional funding for security at places of worship, but they say that, with Ramadan imminent, it is important that that comes forward very quickly. Can the Home Secretary say what the plan is for doing that?

Again, that is such an important issue, after the Christchurch massacre. The hon. Lady will know that we have already doubled the funding available under the places of worship programme. I have allocated £5 million for a three-year training programme, and I have also started a consultation. In addition, we are meeting many members of that community and hon. Members to see what more we can do.