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Online Radicalisation

Volume 616: debated on Monday 31 October 2016

We are taking robust action to tackle online radicalisation and to counter the poisonous ideology promoted by extremists. In 2010, the Home Office and police set up the Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit to tackle and disrupt terrorism-related material. The Government are also supporting community-based initiatives that challenge extremists’ core communications and provide credible counter-narratives.

Will the Minister tell the House how much online material has been removed as part of this initiative?

Since February 2010, internet companies have removed 220,000 pieces of terrorism-related material following referrals from the CTRU.

The Select Committee on Home Affairs has issued two reports calling on Twitter and Facebook to take much tougher action on extremist material, much of which breaches their own terms of use. Does the Minister agree that social media companies should do much more to prevent and remove this material voluntarily, without the need for a request from police officers, which is at the taxpayer’s expense?

Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend. Although the industry has taken some positive steps to address the issue, the internet is still being used to recruit, radicalise, incite and inspire. The CTRU’s relationship with the industry continues to be successful, but we would like internet companies to be more proactive and take more of a lead in tackling the global threat.

Some 12 months ago, Zack Davies was sentenced to life imprisonment following his attempt to behead an Asian citizen in a random attack in a Tesco supermarket in Mold, in my constituency. He was radicalised on the internet by neo-Nazi and Hitler-worshipping material. Will the Minister focus on that issue as well as on Islamist terrorism?

The right hon. Gentleman is right; interestingly, the Prevent strategy is seeing a growth in far-right referrals. In some areas of the country, these Prevent referrals outnumber those about the other parts we are worried out.

In what many see as a blow to the Government’s Prevent scheme, the Muslim Council of Britain has announced that it will be setting up its own anti-radicalisation programme. The Home Secretary appears to be losing the confidence of Muslims, so what does she intend to do to reverse that loss of trust?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question, but she is, of course, wrong. The Prevent programme set up by her Government in 2003 has had considerable successes throughout the communities. We should reflect on the fact that Prevent is about safeguarding vulnerable people from being exploited and saving many people’s lives, across the country and abroad. Repeating the echo chamber of people saying that this is about targeting one group or the other is a fallacy.