Home Secretary Amber Rudd met with community groups in Leicester to hear how the government’s Prevent anti-radicalisation programme is being enforced.
Ms Rudd met with Rabiha Hannan, of The Respect Project, Sumaiya Mulla of Strive, and Riaz Ravat, deputy director of St Philip’s Centre, who are helping to guide people away from committing criminal acts in the name of extremists’ ideologies.
During her visit to the St Philip’s Centre in Leicester, Ms Rudd explained that part of the programme is to intervene so vulnerable people do not become victims to the radicalisation that is being sold online.
“The point of my visit is to find out what the local community is doing and find out whether we’ve got the right initiatives to support the Prevent programme to engage with them.
“What is absolutely evident is that young people are being easily accessed by a complete barrage of propaganda from Daesh which is completely misleading, and terribly violent but can be quite seductive.
“About 25% of The Prevent referrals are the extreme right. We take it very seriously.
“I banned the first far right group National Action about a month ago. It’s incredibly important to make it clear that we want to protect young people, whether it’s from extreme radicalisation by Daesh, Isis or by the far right. Our aim is to protect vulnerable people.”
The Prevent programme, which was introduced as part of the government’s post-September 11 counter-terrorism strategy, is aimed to stop people becoming terrorists’. However, the strategy is faced with criticism, accusing it of stifling freedom and that it could end up promoting extremism.
When asked about countering these criticisms, Ms Rudd replied: “We have to really be on the front-foot about combatting that, most of it is incredibly misleading, she said.
“The best way to combat it is to talk about the evidence and where we can, the individual cases where lives have been saved. The fact that it’s rooted in communities will help to give local people confidence and show them that Prevent is on their side.”
Figures show that in 2015-16, there were around 7,500 referrals to Prevent nationally, and it has also helped disrupt more than 150 attempted journeys to Syria and Iraq.