My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The informal G6 group of Interior Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the UK held their most recent meeting in London on 5 November. The UK currently holds the presidency of the G6 group and the meeting was chaired by the Home Secretary.
The meeting was divided into three working sessions, the first two of which were attended by the core G6 Ministers. This group sat again for the final working session, with the additional guest attendance of the United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.
The first working session considered the issue of organised crime, where the Home Secretary presented the results of the UK’s recent domestic review: Extending Our Reach—A Comprehensive Approach to Tackling Serious Organised Crime, published in July, and asked what more the G6 countries could do together to tackle the threats posed. The group exchanged experiences of what had been found to work in each country in tackling organised crime. There was broad agreement to the need for organised crime to be raised up the agenda. Ministers recognised the value of working together to tackle organised crime, and agreed to more sharing of best practice where relevant.
During the second session the Ministers considered what benefits data sharing could bring to strengthen borders, improve identity management and facilitate the prevention and detection of serious organised crime but also the challenges faced to ensure data were secure and protected. There was less of a consensus on this issue due to the incompatibility between legal systems in each state.
The afternoon session opened with a presentation by the UK of the current terrorist threat assessment. Ministers offered information on the threats posed in their respective countries. This was followed by a discussion of how to counter radicalisation through community engagement, which focused mainly on the role of mosques in radicalisation of young people. Conversation centred on difficulties of mosques preaching in a non EU language (for early stage interventions), and considerations of how to better regulate Imams.
The Interior Minister of Spain, Alfredo Rubalcaba, also took the opportunity to offer a factual presentation on his plans for the Spanish presidency of the EU, which will start on 1 January 2010. There was no discussion.
The next meeting of the G6 is expected to be held in Italy in the first half of next year.