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June 8, 2011

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Home Office: Theresa May launches new Prevent counter-terrorism strategy

The all-new Prevent programme will deal with all forms of terrorism and target not just violent extremism but also non-violent extremism (which can create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and popularise views which terrorists then exploit).

In addition, the programme is designed to ensure Government funding and support cannot reach organisations with extremist views who do not support mainstream British values and challenge the ideology that supports terrorism and those who promote it.

It will support sectors and institutions – including universities and prisons – where there are risks of radicalisation and draw on existing and successful programmes to protect vulnerable individuals from being drawn into terrorism.

Crucially, all new programmes will be evaluated rigorously to ensure effectiveness and value for money.

Development in the ‘war on terror’

Speaking about this latest development in the war on terror, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “Prevent is an integral part of our counter-terrorism strategy and aims to stop people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.”

The Home Secretary continued: “Our new Prevent strategy will challenge extremist ideology, help protect institutions from extremists and tackle the radicalisation of vulnerable people. We will not fund or work with organisations that do not subscribe to the core values of our society.”

In conclusion, May stressed: “Above all, Prevent will tackle the threat from home-grown terrorism.”

The new strategy has been published alongside a detailed review of past Prevent work and an assessment of the extent and causes of radicalisation in this country and overseas (links to these documents may be found at the foot of this page).

In essence, the new strategy will see:

– a greater effort to tackle extremist ideologies, including working with mainstream individuals to make sure moderate voices are heard

– tough action to exclude foreign hate preachers

– work to tackle terrorist use of the Internet for radicalisation, including the filtering of unlawful content by public bodies such as schools and libraries

– work with industry and international partners to crack down on unlawful web content hosted in the UK and overseas

– action to build upon the success of the multi-agency Channel programme which identifies and supports people at risk of radicalisation

– work with schools, including a more effective inspection regime to ensure that extremists are not participating in the education of young people

– greater support for universities and colleges, training staff to recognise the signs of radicalisation and improving awareness of help available to them

– renewed efforts in prisons to stop people becoming radicalised and to de-radicalise those who have been involved in extremism before being jailed

– extra support, where appropriate, to help faith organisations reach people vulnerable to radicalisation

– closer work with the Charity Commission to investigate allegations of terrorist activity or links

Independent reviewer of the Prevent strategy

Lord Alex Carlile, the independent reviewer of the Prevent strategy, said: “This new Prevent strategy has my full support. It provides a template for challenging the extremist ideas and terrorist actions which seek to undermine the rule of law and fundamental British political values and institutions.”

The Security Institute supporter added: “Its tone is clear, and its policy compelling. It offers a positive message for mutual respect, tolerance and liberty.

The Government has announced that the budget for Prevent-focused operations in 2011-12 will be GB pound 46 million (made up if GB pound 36 million from the Home Office and GB pound 10 million courtesy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

Full text of Theresa May’s speech in the House of Commons

“With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the review of the Government’s strategy to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.”

“Intelligence indicates that the UK faces a serious and sustained threat from terrorism. Osama Bin Laden may be dead, but the threat from Al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism is not. Indeed, the threat level from international terrorism remains at Severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.”

“That threat comes both from foreign nationals and terrorists born and bred in Britain. To tackle that threat – as the Prime Minister made clear in his speech in Munich earlier this year – we must not only arrest and prosecute those who breach the law, but we must also stop people being drawn into terrorist-related activity in the first place.”

“That will require a new approach to integrating our divided communities, led by my Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and delivered by ministers across the whole of Government.”

“And in counter-terrorism policy, it will require an effective strategy to tackle radicalisation in this country and overseas.”

Review of the existing counter-radicalisation strategy

“That is why last year I launched a review of the existing counter-radicalisation strategy known as Prevent. This review found that the Prevent programme we inherited from the last Government was flawed. It confused Government policy to promote integration with Government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to tackle the extremist ideology that not only undermines the cohesion of our society, but also inspires would-be terrorists to seek to bring death and destruction to our towns and cities.”

“In trying to reach out to those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting. We will not make the same mistakes.”

“Our new strategy is guided by a number of key principles. Prevent should remain an integral part of our counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, a full update of which we will be publishing later this summer. Its aim should be to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.”

“Prevent should address all forms of terrorism, including the extreme right wing. That is only right and proper, and will also provide a more flexible basis to adapt to emerging threats in the future.”

“However, in a world of scarce resources it’s clear that Prevent work must be targeted against those forms of terrorism which pose the greatest risk to our national security. Currently, the greatest threat comes from Al-Qaeda and those they inspire.”

Stopping people from joining or supporting Al-Qaeda

“The majority of Prevent resources and efforts will therefore be devoted to stopping people from joining or supporting Al-Qaeda, its affiliates or like-minded groups, but Prevent must also recognise and tackle the insidious impact of non-violent extremism which can itself create an atmosphere conducive to terrorism and popularise views which terrorists then exploit.”

“Prevent depends on a successful integration strategy, but integration alone will not meet our counter-terrorism objectives. Our integration programme should go much wider than just security and counter-terrorism. This was a fundamental failing of the last Government’s approach. They failed to promote integration, and where they did promote it they did so through the narrow prism of counter-terrorism.”

“So we will do more than any Government before us to promote integration – including through teaching our history and values in our schools, through National Citizen Service and through other policies, but we will do so separately and differently from Prevent.”

“The combined effect of this work and of the new Prevent strategy will be an unyielding fight against extremism, violent extremism and radicalisation.”

“It is critical that agencies, departments and local authorities work to a common set of Prevent objectives to deliver the outcomes we want. Public funding for Prevent must be rigorously prioritised and comprehensively audited. The last Government was far too lax in spending in this area, as it was in so many others.”

“And let me reiterate – under this Government, public money will not be provided to extremist organisations. If organisations do not support the values of democracy, Human Rights, equality before the law and participation in society – if they do not accept these fundamental and universal values – then we will not work with them and we will not fund them.”

Main objectives of the new Prevent approach

“Within this overall framework, the new Prevent strategy will have three objectives. First, Prevent will respond to the ideological challenge and the threat from those who promote it. As the Deputy Prime Minister said in his recent speech in Luton, we must be much more assertive about our values.”

“Let me be clear: the ideology of extremism and terrorism is the problem, Islam emphatically is not. Tackling that ideology will mean working with mainstream individuals and organisations to make sure moderate voices are heard. It will mean robustly defending our institutions and our way of life.”

“Where propagandists break the law in encouraging or approving terrorism it will mean arrest and prosecution. Where people seek to enter this country from overseas to engage in activity in support of extremist or terrorist groups, we will exclude them. Since coming to power, I have already excluded 44 individuals from the UK because of either unacceptable behaviour or for national security reasons.”

“Second, Prevent will stop individuals from being drawn into terrorism and will ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. Radicalisation is a process, not a one-off event. During that process it’s possible to intervene to stop vulnerable people gravitating towards terrorism. We will do this by building on the successful multi-agency ‘Channel’ programme which identifies and provides support for people at risk of radicalisation.”

“Mr Speaker, I want to use this opportunity to make one thing clear: Prevent is not about spying on communities, as some have alleged. It is about acting on information from the police, the security and intelligence agencies, local authorities and community organisations to help those specifically at risk of turning towards terrorism. It is incumbent upon everyone in this country to play their part in helping them do so.”

Sectors and institutions in focus

“Third, we will work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation. It is right to acknowledge that progress has been made in this area, but that progress has been patchy and it must be improved, so we will work with education and healthcare providers, universities, faith groups, charities, prisons and the wider criminal justice system.”

“We will also work to tackle the particular challenge of radicalisation on the Internet, and to make better use ourselves of social media and other modern communications technologies.”

“This latest Prevent review has been independently overseen by Lord Carlile of Berriew. I would like to pay tribute to him for his contribution. Lord Carlile has said that the new Prevent strategy has his full support. He said: ‘It provides a template for challenging the extremist ideas and terrorist actions which seek to undermine the rule of law and fundamental British political values and institutions. Its tone is clear, and its policy compelling. It offers a positive message for mutual respect, tolerance and liberty.'”

“Mr Speaker, Prevent has not been without controversy. In the past, it received allegations that it was a cover for spying. These allegations have been found to be false, but now we will make sure that this is seen and known to be the case.”

“In the past, Prevent was muddled up with integration. It operated to confused and contradictory objectives. Not any more.”

“And at times funding even found its way to the sorts of extremist organisations that themselves pose a threat to our society and to our security. Not under this Government.”

“Let me be clear – we will not fund or work with organisations that do not subscribe to the core values of our society. Our new Prevent strategy will challenge the extremist ideology, and it will help protect sectors and institutions from extremists. It will also stop the radicalisation of vulnerable people.”

“Above all, it will tackle the threat from home-grown terrorism.”

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